Annapolis civil rights lawyer remembered as fearless, graceful

mbrockett@capgaznews.com
Legum's career included a pair of discrimination lawsuits filed on behalf of African-American firefighters and

About 200 people gathered at a park in the Annapolis Roads community on Sunday for a memorial service honoring Alan Legum, a prominent Annapolis attorney who was remembered as a kind and graceful man and a fearless civil rights lawyer whose work brought about positive and lasting change.

Legum died Aug. 8 in Seattle, where he had been receiving treatment for a rare blood disorder, according to family. He was 69.

During Sunday's service, family members, friends and local dignitaries took turns speaking about Legum from under a white tent that shaded about half of the attendees from the blistering morning sun.

Many lauded his work as a civil rights attorney, reading citations from the state NAACP, the Maryland House of Delegates, the Annapolis City Council and Congressman John Sarbanes' office.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch said Legum had a magnetic personality and went out of his way to help everyone.

"He was a voice for many people that were voiceless in the city of Annapolis," Busch said. "And you can tell by the cross section of people that are here today that he represented the entire community."

Legum's law career began in the early 1970s and included a pair of discrimination lawsuits filed in the 1980s on behalf of African-American firefighters and police officers in Annapolis.

The cases resulted in the city of Annapolis beginning minority recruitment efforts for its fire and police departments.

Annapolis Alderman Kenneth Kirby, reading a citation from the City Council, said numerous cases filed by Legum led to "systemic changes."

Legum also successfully represented tenants of the former Ken-Marr Apartments, now Woodside Gardens, who held a rent strike to protest poor living conditions, according to Carl Snowden, former Annapolis alderman and head of the Caucus of African American Leaders.

Snowden, who was among the first to speak at Sunday's service, called Legum "an incredible man."

Legum was Snowden's attorney, and the two were friends for decades, he said.

"Because of Alan Legum's advocacy, people (who) live in the city of Annapolis who happen to be people of color got a much better deal," Snowden said.

Many of the speakers Sunday described Legum as a poised and humble man with an understated elegance.

His youngest son, Judd Legum, called him "an oasis of decency" who treated everyone equally and was passionate and fearless when it came to his work.

The younger Legum, who worked for a few years at his father's law firm, recalled Alan Legum's willingness to take on any firm, corporation or entity, regardless of its size or power.

"He was sort of a soft-spoken guy, but with his work, he was really strong," Judd Legum said. "And I think his clients all felt that strength and ... everyone around him felt that strength."

Family members also described a silly side of Legum that seemed to brighten vacations and family moments and produced memorable stories that brought the group at the park to laughter numerous times.

Many speakers also described his love for his wife, Emily Legum.

"For over 40 years, he only had eyes for you," Legum's brother, Edmond Legum, said to her on Sunday.

Adam Legum, Alan Legum's stepson whom he helped raise from an early age, and Judd Legum both spoke fondly of their parents' love for each other.

"They had sort of a complete and total devotion to each other that kind of transcended even the institution of marriage," Judd Legum said. "They were best friends, they were buddies, they did an incredible number of things together."

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