BOSTON (AP) - Lillian Bonner Sutson, a little-known civil rights activist whose attempts to register as a voter in South Carolina set a precedent in the fight against segregation and voting discrimination in the South, has died in Massachusetts.
Her grandson, Marcus Jones, said Wednesday that Sutson died of age-related causes Monday at a nursing home in Saugus. She was believed to be 99.
Sutson, the granddaughter of a slave, went with her mother and two other African-American women to register as Democrats in 1940 in Gaffney, S.C. They were denied, threatened and verbally abused, sparking a federal criminal case. Thurgood Marshall served as their attorney.
They lost the case, but Marshall used the experience to pursue others that ultimately helped strike down voter discrimination and segregation.