Highlander mourns the passing of Rev. James Orange, a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement and a tireless advocate for justice.
Rev. Orange became involved in the Civil Rights Movement as a recent high-school graduate during the 1963 demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama. He served as a project coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1965-1970 and later worked for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union and the AFL-CIO, where he helped to build bridges between the civil rights movement and organized labor.
Rev. Orange served on the Highlander Board in the 1990s, and he has been a strong supporter of Highlander’s cultural work. Most recently, in his capacity as coordinator of the Martin Luther King Jr. March Committee-Africa/African-American Renaissance Committee, he and the committee staff facilitated the participation of Tufara Waller Muhammad, Highlander’s Cultural Organizer, in the Martin Luther King Day events at the King Center in Atlanta.
In addition to his work for civil rights and social justice in this country, Rev. Orange was known for his work connecting the struggle of Black southerners in the United States with that of Africans in South Africa and he encouraged South Africans to use the U.S. Civil Rights Movement as a model for fighting apartheid. He understood the importance of linking the global South to the U.S. South and was an international activist-organizer-political educator. He was acknowledged by people around the world as a citizen of the world.
We join Rev. Orange’s family, friends, and colleagues in honoring his life and mourning his passing. He worked passionately for justice and equality throughout his life, and his many contributions to movement in this country and around the world will long be remembered.