Civil Rights Attorney Lewis Myers Jr. Dies at 70

(CNN) — Longtime civil rights attorney Lewis Myers Jr., who worked on a key lawsuit against racial discrimination in Mississippi’s higher education system, has died, according to his family. He was 70 years old.

Myers died Thursday in a rehabilitation center after complications from surgery, the Chicago Crusader reported.

“We’ve lost a loving husband, wonderful father and dear friend … legal scholar, civil rights activist, and advocate for the poor and marginalized,” his family said in a statement on Facebook.

Myers’ firm website says he was involved in a notable desegregation lawsuit, Ayers vs. Mississippi, that was filed in the 1970s and eventually reached the US Supreme Court.

It led to the state operating its higher-education system under court-ordered desegregation in 1995, according to The Clarion Ledger. And in 2005, the state began making payments on a $503 million settlement to three historically black colleges.

The site says Myers was born in Houston and earned his bachelor’s degree at Howard University. He studied law at Rutgers and the University of Mississippi.

He had his own law firm in Chicago. Over his career, Myers worked with Louis Farrakhan, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and other notable leaders and organizations, his firm site says.

He was national deputy executive director/chief operating officer for the NAACP from 1993-94, the site says.

Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO, called Myers a “true advocate for the people … a powerful force for progress. He was a truly progressive voice in the legal and civil rights community.”