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Press Release

Georgia Court Of Appeals Chief Judge Phipps Addresses United States Attorney's Offices

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

As part of their commemoration of Black History Month, the staff of the United States Attorney’s offices in Macon, Albany and Columbus enjoyed a presentation by Georgia Court of Appeals Chief Judge Herbert Phipps.

Judge Phipps opened his presentation with a quote from Helen Keller, “The world is moved not only by the mighty shoves of the heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”  He then proceeded to relate stories about the unknown honest workers who toiled and sacrificed during the civil rights struggle in the South.

Judge Phipps spoke of watching trials during his teenage years in the state and federal courthouses.  He related incidents where court security officers tried to keep him from entering the courthouse and the racial slurs and other abuses he witnessed of black defendants and witnesses. 

While in college, Judge Phipps was active with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the civil rights movement.  He told of an incident where he was working on voter registration in Albany, Georgia and was jailed for several days in a cell next to Dr. Martin Luther King.  Judge Phipps’ only crime was being in a phone booth at night.  He was never charged and was ultimately released.  Dr. King shared the meals, brought to him by church ladies, with Judge Phipps.

Judge Phipps spoke of C.B. King, his former law partner.  Today, the Federal Courthouse in Albany, Georgia is named for him although Mr. King was not allowed to go to law school in Georgia because he was black.

His final illustration of tiny shoves by honest workers was of an uneducated sharecropper and civil rights pioneer from Mississippi named Fannie Lou Hamer.  She took the risk of many acts of civil disobedience during the 60’s and, when asked about the risk said, “If I fall, I will fall 5 feet 4 ½ inches forward in the journey for equal justice.”

“Black History Month is a time for us not only to reflect on the past; it is a time to remember and honor the many unsung heroes who literally risked everything in the pursuit of equal rights.  As I listened to Judge Phipps, I was inspired by his courage and reminded that each of us, in our own way, is responsible for continuing the commitment to equal justice for everyone,” said United States Attorney Michael Moore.

Inquiries regarding the case should be directed to Pamela Lightsey, United States Attorney's Office at (478) 621-2603.

Updated February 19, 2015