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Arthur Davis Shores (1904-1996)
Arthur Davis Shores (1904-1996)
Arthur Shores can be described in many ways. He was a courageous battler for civil rights. He was considered Alabama’s “drum major for justice.” However, the most affectionate title which I heard referring to him was “Daddy Shores" This title was not limited to his own children—Helen and Barbara—but to generations of young lawyers who sought his advice and received his mentorship.

Arthur was initially an educator serving as a teacher and high school principal He had graduated from Talladega College but only completed one year of law school at the University of Kansas. He continued his legal studies through correspondence courses and then sat for and passed the Alabama Bar Exam in 1937. He was one of only a handful of black attorneys in the state, but his impact began immediately.

In 1938, he successfully sued the Alabama Board of Registrars for its refusal to register to vote seven black school teachers. In 1941, he argued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court that a whites-only railroad union could not exclude blacks and then deny them better jobs because they were not union members. In 1942, he successfully represented a black principal to force the Jefferson County School Board to pay black teachers the same salaries as whites. In 1956, he represented Autherine Lucy in her effort to become the first black student at the University of Alabama. And, in 1963, he successfully argued to the Supreme Court that the arrests of peaceful demonstrators in Birmingham should be ruled unconstitutional.

In the late 1960s, Arthur Shores became the first black member of the Birmingham City Council. He is remembered as a strong and brave advocate, a gentleman at the law, but a lawyer who got results for his clients.

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