Real African American Heros: Judge Thelma Wyatt Moore

Judge, Superior Court of Fulton County Georgia

Judge Thelma Wyatt MooreJudge Thelma Wyatt Moore’s burning desire to seek justice and equality has been catalyzed by her life experiences. When the Ku Klux Klan burned her family’s home and later burned crosses in their yard, the flame of justice was ignited. When her father, Dr. J.O. Wyatt, ran for election to the Amarillo School Board following the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the flame was set afire.

Judge Thelma Wyatt Moore was born in Amarillo, Texas and attended the public schools there,including Carver High School. She attended Carver in 1957, transferred to a boarding school and returned to Carver in the 10th grade in 1959. When asked to reflect on a high school memory, Judge Moore said, “When I was a cheerleader in the tenth grade, we thought we were cheering for the dragons and were yelling, ‘Push ‘em back’ when our team had the ball! Mr. Allen called the cheerleaders in the next day after school to teach us about football.” Judge Moore credits her parents, Godparents, Dr. and Mrs. Melvin P. Hines and her principals and teachers with her love of learning and her belief in her God-given abilities to achieve whatever she desired. “Our parents and teachers steeped us in our African American history. We knew whence we came. They passed the torch to us to achieve and enabled us to pass the torch to the next generation,” she acknowledged.

The Honorable Mayor Maynard H. Jackson appointed Judge Moore to the bench in 1977. Since then, she has achieved a litany of “firsts”. Judge Moore was the first woman to serve full time on the benches of the Atlanta Municipal Court and the City Court of Atlanta and the first African American woman to serve on the State Court of Fulton County, Georgia’s busiest trial court of general jurisdiction and the first African woman to serve as Chief Administrative Judge of any Judicial Circuit in Georgia. She has been re-elected to the bench six times. Judge Moore served as Chair of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association and she has dedicated herself to its mission of justice and equality.

Judge is the recipient of over 200 awards, including the Gate City Bar Association Legacy Award, NAACP Legacy Award, Concerned Black Clergy President’s Award and the Gate City Bar Association Hall of Fame Award. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of California at Los Angeles and completed a fellowship in Psychodynamics at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She is a prolific writer, speaker and producer of historical videos including the Judicial Council documentary, “Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs.” Judge Moore also serves on the Board of Governors of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and the Joseph E. Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights at Clark Atlanta University. She served two terms on the Board of the National Center for State Courts and as a Trustee of Emory University.

Judge Moore derives inspiration to continue the legacy of triumph over injustice from her family, including her late parents;late husband, Judge Luke C. Moore; aunt, Mrs. Ruby Lott Stroman; brothers, J.O. and Morris; and children, Khari, a real estate entrepreneur, and Ayanna, who is pursuing both her MBA and doctoral degrees. As an active member of Cascade United Methodist Church, Judge Moore founded its Legal Ministry Program. Committed in both the public and private realms, Judge Moore’s philosophy is to live her life dedicated to serving God through service to others, the legacy of her parents and so many of her Amarillo role models.

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