JEFF DAVIS, Executive Director State Bar of Georgia
Howard Moore Jr.: A ‘Go-To Lawyer’ for Civil Rights
Alongside the global COVID-19 pandemic, America’s attention in the year 2020 has been focused on issues of racial inequality in law enforcement and our criminal justice system. As we look back on the career of another civil rights hero from Georgia’s legal community, it is difficult to reconcile that the same battles were being fought more than a half-century ago.
During the 1960s, Howard Moore Jr. was an Atlanta civil rights attorney who handled several precedent-setting cases related to freedom of speech and other constitutional rights issues. A native of Atlanta, Moore had attended law school at Boston University. But feeling an obligation to use his legal skills to assist the Civil Rights Movement in the South, he returned to his hometown and became a protégé of Donald L. Hollowell, one of the most prominent civil rights lawyers.
According to his biography written by W. Michael Camp for the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Moore was born on Feb. 28, 1932, to Bessie Sims and Howard Moore Sr. and was raised on Fort Street, which was in the center of the Black business district in Atlanta. As a youngster, Moore delivered newspapers for The Atlanta Journal. His route sent him down Auburn Avenue, where he encountered African American leaders like attorney Austin T. Walden. He graduated from David T. Howard High School in 1950 and wanted to become a journalist.
But in the summer of 1951, Moore attended the NAACP convention in Atlanta, keynoted by civil rights lawyer and future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thur-good Marshall. That is when Moore became interested in practicing law. Moore graduated from Morehouse College and served in the Army for two years before entering law school. Because Georgia’s law schools refused to admit African American applicants at the time, Moore set off for Boston University School of Law, earning his degree in 1960. He served as a clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Charles E. Wyzanski and was admitted to practice law in Massachusetts in 1961.
Upon his return to Atlanta in 1962, Moore worked for Donald Hollowell before helping found the firm of Moore, Alexander & Rindskopf, where he was a full partner. In the years that followed, Moore worked closely with the Student...