ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - A Tennessee Valley judge hailed as one of the first to stand for justice during a time of racial unrest.
Judge James E. Horton is an important figure in history, especially in his hometown of Athens.
Wednesday, at least 150 Limestone County residents gathered at Pen Strokes of Justice, an event to honor the late judge who risked his career by standing up for justice during the Scottsboro Boys case.
"I learned that he had done something great during the Scottsboro trial and even did a report on it in high school," said Kathy Garrett, Judge Horton's granddaughter.
Community members read letters from all over the world. Judge Horton kept the letters in a lard bucket, some praising, and others condemning his actions.
"He never regretted his decision," said Limestone County Archivist Rebekah Davis. "In fact, if you asked him, up to his dying day, he would say 'My daddy would always say may justice be done though the heavens may fall.'"
The event wasn't just a history lesson, it was also part of an ongoing effort to put a statue of Judge Horton on the Limestone County steps. A project that has made major progress.
Davis announced they've officially raised enough money to get the artist to begin work on the statue. But they are hoping to raise more money to add plaques to the statue, as well as host informational events so future generations can continue to learn about the hometown hero.
You can learn more about, and donate to the Horton Monument project here.