Bedford, a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, became the first black judge in Dallas when he served on the municipal court in 1966. He spent most of his adult life mentoring other black lawyers, including Dallas County DA Craig Watkins, who he swore into office. Watkins remembered that moment in this profile I wrote of him in 2009:
“I was looking at him when he was swearing me in, and he was trembling and he was almost teary-eyed,” Watkins says. “I was like, why is he so emotional for me? And then I realized: all the struggles that he had been through were really for me to have this opportunity. He said at the end of his little thing, ‘You’re the first. Let’s make sure that you’re not the last.’ I really didn’t understand at the time what he was talking about, but I understand it now. Any little thing you do will jeopardize someone else that may be different—a woman, Hispanic, whatever—to be put in this position. Whatever you do, if you make the smallest mistake, it will shine a disparaging light on everybody else that comes.”
Bedford was 88.