Demetrius Newton, a civil rights attorney who represented icons like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. before becoming the first black person to serve as speaker pro tem of the Alabama House, has died. He was 85.
Rep. John Rogers of Birmingham, a longtime friend of Newton, says he was notified by the lawmaker's family that Newton died Wednesday morning.
Newton was former city attorney for Birmingham and had served in the Legislature since 1986.
In the Legislature, he was an outspoken critic of Alabama's 1901 Constitution, which he described as too long and out-of date.
Newton pushed for years for lawmakers to write a new constitution.
Republican House Speaker Mike Hubbard of Auburn described Newton as an intelligent and fair man who fought for his district.