Judge Helen Shores Lee to present family story of courage and sacrifice
Nov 15, 2013 | 1463 views |  0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Judge Helen Shores Lee became the first African-American woman to serve in the civil division of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County. She visits the Pell City Library Wednesday, Nov. 20 at noon to tell about the book she and her sister, Barbara Sylvia Shores, wrote about their father’s judicial career, “The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill, the Untold Story of Arthur Shores and His Family’s Fight for Civil Rights.”
Judge Helen Shores Lee became the first African-American woman to serve in the civil division of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County. She visits the Pell City Library Wednesday, Nov. 20 at noon to tell about the book she and her sister, Barbara Sylvia Shores, wrote about their father’s judicial career, “The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill, the Untold Story of Arthur Shores and His Family’s Fight for Civil Rights.”
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The Honorable Helen Shores Lee grew up during the racially turbulent times of the 1960s in Birmingham. As with many other locations at the time, this sometimes became a difficult era fraught with violence and racial inequalities. But for the daughter of a prominent civil rights attorney Arthur Shores, the violence of the time became personal, Lee tells, because she lived it.

Lee will tell her family’s story of courage and perseverance at the Pell City Library Wednesday, Nov. 20 at noon.

This story has now been chronicled in a book written by Lee and her sister, Barbara Sylvia Shores, along with Denise George, titled “The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill, the Untold Story of Arthur Shores and His Family’s Fight for Civil Rights.”

The book was published by Zondervan in August 2012.

In their story, the sisters tell that it wasn’t easy being the daughter of Arthur Shores. Considered a pioneer of racial equality, even before marches and demonstrations became the focus of nightly newscasts, attorney Arthur Shores began his career in the 1930s defending civil rights despite threats and acts of violence to his family and community.

Representing Autherine Lucy successfully in her quest for admission to the University of Alabama was a landmark case for Shores, and resulted in his ongoing presence in prominent civil rights litigation in Alabama. This notoriety brought danger to the judge and to his family during this racially charged period, the daughters recall.

Smithfield, the neighborhood where the Shores family lived, was targeted by the Klu Klux Klan on more than 50 occasions.

In 1963, their home was bombed twice, collapsing the garage, blowing off the front door, causing Shore’s wife, Theodora, to suffer a concussion, and killing Tasso, the family’s cocker spaniel.

The family barely escaped another bombing attempt on their home in 1965.

Threatening letters and phone calls were common, Lee and her sister tell.

Yet with courage and determination, his daughters write how Shores lived his faith and persevered with selfless service and a strong will to succeed.

This was a legacy that he passed on to his two daughters, who have both achieved their own success in their chosen fields of law and social service.

Lee was appointed circuit judge of the 10th Judicial Court of Alabama in January 2003 by former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

Lee became the first African-American woman to serve in the civil division of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County.

Before this, she practiced law in Birmingham with the firm Shores and Lee for more than 16 years.

Lee served as magistrate for the city of Birmingham in 1986 and 1987, prior to her practice of law.

She graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., and earned her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles.

Lee earned her juris doctorate from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham.

She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Alabama State Bar, the Birmingham Bar, the Magic City Bar and the National Bar Association.

Lee served on the Alabama State Ethics Commission from 1996-2000 and as its chairwoman from 1999-2000.

Lee’s involvement in community service includes serving as chair of the Advisory Council of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Minority Health and Research Center; and also on the boards of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama; Campfire, Inc; The American Red Cross; United Cerebral Palsy, and as a trustee of Leadership Birmingham.

For over 50 years, Lee has been married to her husband, Bob Lee.

The couple has two sons, one daughter and five grandchildren.

She and her family are members of First Congregational Church, where she serves on the board of trustees.

In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and the relaxation of deep-sea fishing.

“As a child, I learned from my parents early the importance of giving back to the community,” she said. “As an adult, I have found that giving of your time and service can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. If I am to promote the welfare of my community and make my city a better place to live, then I must get involved and I must give of my time, my service and myself for the benefit of others. This is the model I follow in my professional career and personal life.”

Lee will tell her story and share from her book at noon at the Pell City Library.

She will be the featured guest speaker for the library’s ongoing Wild and Wonderful Wednesday series.

The program is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served afterward.