Arthur Shores

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Arthur Davis Shores
BornSeptember 25, 1904
Birmingham, Alabama, United States
Died(1996-12-16)December 16, 1996 (aged 92)
Birmingham, Alabama, United States
Alma materTalladega College
La Salle Extension University
OccupationCivil rights attorney
Spouse(s)Theodora Warren Shores

Arthur Davis Shores (September 25, 1904 – December 16, 1996) was an American civil rights attorney who was considered Alabama's "drum major for justice".[1]


Shores graduated from Talladega College where he became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

He attended only one year of law school at the University of Kansas and then pursued his law studies through the correspondence school La Salle Extension University.[2]

Legal career[edit]

Shores passed the Alabama State Bar exam in 1937 and immediately began using his legal skills to support civil rights issues. In 1938, Shores successfully sued on behalf of seven school teachers who denied the right to vote by the Alabama Board of Registrars.

Shores was general counsel for the International Association of Railway Employees (IARE). In 1941 he took on the case of Steele v. Louisville & N. R. Co. in which B. W. Steele, a member of the IARE executive, argued that an agreement between the railway and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen was illegal. A whites-only railroad union could not exclude blacks and then deny them better jobs because they were not union members. He worked on this case with attorney Charles H. Houston, who argued it successfully in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1944.[3] Shores represented black teachers in the Jefferson County School Board to receive the same pay as white teachers.

Birmingham, Alabama residents viewing the bomb-damaged home of Arthur Shores on September 5, 1963. The bomb exploded the previous day, September 4, injuring Shores' wife.

In 1955, Shores successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Lucy v. Adams to prevent the University of Alabama from denying admission solely based on race or color. Autherine Lucy became the first African-American to attend the school when she was admitted in 1956. On the third day of classes, a hostile mob assembled to prevent Lucy from attending classes. The police were called to secure her admission but, that evening, the University suspended Lucy on the grounds that it could not provide a safe environment.[4]

Shores' campaign in 1963 to integrate the Birmingham public schools brought violence to him and other residents. Shore's home was fire-bombed on August 20 and September 4 in retaliation for black parents registering their children at white schools. Eleven days later a bomb killed four girls at 16th Street Baptist Church.[4] He argued before the Supreme court in the same year that the arrests of peaceful demonstrators in Birmingham should be ruled unconstitutional.

During the 1960s, he became the first black member of the Birmingham City Council.

In 1977, the NAACP honored Shores by awarding him the William Robert Ming Advocacy Award for the spirit of financial and personal sacrifice displayed in his legal work.[5]


Shores died in December 1996 at his home in Birmingham, Alabama. He was 92.


  1. ^ "Arthur Davis Shores (1904-1996)". Alabama State Bar. Archived from the original on 2007-04-10. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
  2. ^ Pace, Eric (December 18, 1996). Arthur D. Shores, 92, Lawyer And Advocate for Civil Rights. The New York Times
  3. ^ Krochmal, Max (November 2010). "An Unmistakably Working-Class Vision: Birmingham's Foot Soldiers and Their Civil Rights Movement" (PDF). The Journal of Southern History. LXXVI (4): 933–934. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  4. ^ a b Staff Writer (2006-02-26). "Difficult Lessons—Desegregating the Schools, 1962-1963". The Birmingham News. Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
  5. ^ "NAACP Legal Department Awards". NAACP. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-04.

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