Judge Helen Shores Lee Reveals How Civil Rights Experiences Turned into Book

Judge Helen Shores Lee, who authored a book about her life in Birmingham as a Civil Rights attorney's daughter, told Alabama Media Professionals members she was a defiant child who broke Birmingham's segregation rules. At the our regular monthly meeting in May, she revealed that she purposefully drank from the "whites only" fountain at Loveman's and even shot a gun at some white hooligan boys harassing her and her family.

When her father explained to her that shooting at people was possibly going to land her in jail, and he wouldn't be able to get her out, she decided that Birmingham's injustices were not going to be a good fit for her nature. Lee explained that her temperament was not one of nonviolence at that time. She was only 13 then. So, an opportunity took her to Los Angeles, and later her husband brought her back to Birmingham.

Judge Lee said she ended up being influenced by John Lewis and even participated in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins. This led to her calling her Birmingham Civil Rights attorney father, Arthur Shores, to proudly report she had been arrested. It took all the self-control she could muster to not respond physically to the woman who spat on her.

The anger over her family's Birmingham house being bombed twice ate away at her. Then she heard Ghandi speak at Emory University about anger. He said being angry at someone doesn't change the behavior of that person, it only causes you harm. This started a change in Judge Lee's attitude to one more like her father had. It has helped her with the sometimes irritating and offensive remarks and activities that happen in the courtroom.

In addition to advising AMP members on the benefits of writing family stories with other family members, Judge Lee also had words of advice for an intern visiting the meeting yesterday: "Get involved in the community," she said. "Know the issues and don't be afraid to speak up. Some have become complacent. Find a cause you care about and be active."

Judge Lee's book is titled "The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill: The Untold Story of Arthur Shores and His Family's Fight for Civil Rights." It can be purchased at Alabama Booksmith.