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Ralph David Abernathy III, a former Georgia state senator and son of civil rights icon Ralph Abernathy, died Thursday morning after a long battle with colon cancer, according to the AJC.

He died two days before his 57th birthday, the report says:

“I knew then that I couldn’t hide it any longer,” Abernathy III told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in February. “That was right around the time Jimmy Carter announced he had cancer, so that gave me encouragement.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he was saddened to learn of Abernathy’s passing, and that the younger Abernathy carried on his father’s work.

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