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Michael A. Figures (1947 – 1996)
Michael A. Figures (1947 – 1996)
Michael Figures was born in Mobile, Alabama, on October 13, 1947. He graduated from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa in 1969 and served as President of the Student Government Association at the school. He was among the first African American graduates of the University of Alabama School of Law, graduating in 1972.

Early in his career, Figures practiced public interest law representing the Emergency Land Fund, a group devoted to protecting the rights of Black landowners in the South. He later joined the firm of Crawford, Blacksher, Menefee, and Stein in Mobile. He continued to practice law for a number of years with Vernon Crawford who was a 2008 inductee into the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame. In 1981 he established his own firm, Figures, Irby, and Ludgood. The firm’s clients included labor unions, pension funds, small businesses, public entities, and individual clients.

Michael Figures is best known for his participation in the litigation that struck down at-large elections in the City of Mobile, and the lawsuit against the United Klans of America which sought damages for the family of Michael Donald, a 19 year old Black youth, who was lynched in 1981 in Mobile. The case resulted in a multimillion dollar judgment which bankrupted the Klan. He was selected Trial Lawyer of the Year in 1987.

Michael Figures was a past President of the Alabama Black Lawyers Association and was on the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation of Alabama. He was a founding member of the Vernon Z. Crawford Bay Area Bar Association, an association of Black lawyers in Mobile.

While maintaining an active law practice, Figures worked to elect representatives that would be responsive to the needs of under-represented populations in Mobile. In 1978 he himself was elected to the Alabama Senate and he became the first African American Senator from Mobile County. His colleagues selected him as Outstanding Legislator in 1986 and he was elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate in 1996. This achievement made him the highest ranking African American government official in the history of Alabama at that time. He was a founding member and past President of the Alabama New South Coalition, an organization established to strengthen Black political participation throughout the state.

Active in Democratic politics, Figures was elected a delegate to five Democratic Presidential nominating conventions and he served as Treasurer of the Alabama Democratic Party. He also served on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Stillman College.

Michael Figures accomplished much in his short lifetime. He died on September 13, 1996, exactly one month shy of his 49th birthday. For his service to his community, his state, and his profession, the lawyers of Alabama honor Michael A. Figures today with induction into the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame.

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