Civil rights advocate and former Detroit deputy mayor Adam Shakoor passed away last Sunday at the age of 74. According to Detroit Free Press, Shakoor also served as Rosa Parks’ personal attorney from 1995 until her death in 2005. Civil rights groups also regard him as the first-ever Muslim judge in the United States.
“He was totally committed to helping people and was a great family man,” Eric Sabree, who is Wayne County Treasurer and longtime friend of Shakoor, said. “He was a person who really strived for excellence in himself and all those he associated with. I relied on his counsel and advice.”
Born Adam Caddell, Shakoor held bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees from Wayne State University. He changed his name after converting to Islam while at the institution.
Family members said the deceased judge was a social change advocate who particularly defended the rights of people during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and 70s.
“He was committed to service, and giving back to the community that lifted him up and valued him and his contributions,” executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, John. E. Johnson, Jr., said.
The deceased legal practitioner also served as a Common Pleas Court for Wayne County after he was appointed by former governor William Milliken in 1981. He also held the position of the chief judge of Detroit’s 36th District Court for two terms.
And following his retirement from the bench in 1989, Shakoor served as deputy mayor of Detroit until 1993. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) cited landmark decisions Shakoor won on behalf of Muslims in Michigan.
“In 1979, Shakoor successfully represented Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit in court for its right to call the Muslim call to prayer (adhan) over outside loudspeakers in the first such ruling in the country. In the same year, Shakoor also led litigation against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) regarding religious accommodations for Muslim inmates which led to the hiring of the 1st Muslim chaplain in state corrections,” CAIR stated.
CAIR-MI Executive Director, Dawud Walid, regarded Shakoor as a “mentor and an inspiration to Michigan Muslims and the civil rights community.”
“Judge Shakoor was not only a leader in metro Detroit for African Americans and Muslims of varying ethnicities pertaining to civil rights but was also a shining example of moral excellence,” Walid added.
Shakoor is survived by his wife and six children.