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February 7--  Vidalia Kiwanians were glued to their seats Tuesday as the biographer of a federal appeals court judge related how he came to have an influence during the nation's civil rights struggle in the 50's and 60's.

{mosimage}Federal Judge Elbert Tuttle, who died in 1996 at the age of 99, was appointed to the federal bench by President Dwight Eisenhower.  His biographer, Georgia State Law Professor Anne Emanuel, says Judge Tuttle was a Republican because he refused to join southern Democrats who favored segregation.

"It's tempting to think of it as being predestined because it was so odd that a person with his background would have become Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit at that time.  Had he not, things might have turned out quite differently.  People in the Civil Right Division at the White House thought the same thing.  Nicholas Katzenbach, one of Robert Kennedy's top aides in the Justice Department, said if it hadn't been for judges like that on the Fifth Circuit, I don't know if Brown versus Board of Education would have succeeded in the end," she relates.

Professor Emanuel believes decisions made by Judge Tuttle helped break down the system of racial discrimination which brought about the cause championed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..

"Nowhere was it written that Martin Luther King's movement had to succeed.  Before it did succeed, we had rigidly enforced racial segregation.  We didn't have students going to school together.  We didn't have black people and white people at the same meetings or at the same restaurants.  It was an entirely different world and Judge Tuttle played a critical role in turning that around," she said.

Professor Emanuel also addressed a school assembly at Vidalia High School during her visit to Vidalia Tuesday.