updated 2/17/2008 5:14:43 PM ET 2008-02-17T22:14:43

The Rev. James E. Orange, a lieutenant of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, has died. He was 65.

Orange died Saturday at Crawford Long Hospital. He had suffered complications from gallbladder surgery, his daughter, Jamida Orange, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"We are all weaker today because James Orange is no longer with us," said Edward Dubose, president of the Georgia branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "We have lost a great soldier in the struggle for freedom and equality."

Orange marched in his hometown in 1963 alongside King and the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy to help integrate facilities and transportation. He lived in southwest Atlanta for more than four decades.

Brought King's message to unions
He was project coordinator with the SCLC from 1965 to 1970. Later he became a regional coordinator with the AFL-CIO in Atlanta, where he incorporated King's nonviolence philosophy and promoted unity between national labor leaders and King's "beloved community." He retired in 2005.

Since 1995, Orange served as the general coordinator of the Martin Luther King Jr. March Committee-Africa/African-American Renaissance Committee. The organization coordinates the country's most watched and attended events of the King national holiday. It also promoted trade between Atlanta and the U.S. with South Africa.

Survivors include his wife, Cleo, five children and two grandchildren.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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