MACON – The Hon. W. Louis Sands, senior U.S. district judge for the Middle District of Georgia, a Mercer alumnus and current member of the University's Board of Trustees, will be recognized at the Jones County Ninth Grade Academy on May 11.
A portrait of Sands will be unveiled, along with a plaque recognizing him as a native of Jones County, graduate of Maggie Califf High School – which was located at the site of the current Ninth Grade Academy – as well as one of Mercer's first African-American students.
He obtained his undergraduate and law degrees from Mercer in 1971 and 1974, respectively, and went on to become the first African-American to serve in the following roles: assistant district attorney for the Macon Judicial Circuit, assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, superior court judge in Bibb County, and district court judge and chief judge for the Middle District of Georgia.
Additionally, Sands, who was born in the Jones County community of Bradley, served in the U.S. Army Reserve Signal Corps from 1974-1980, reaching the rank of captain.
He is currently serving his third term as a member of Mercer's Board of Trustees, is a member of the Walter F. George Foundation board, and has served on the School of Law Alumni Association board. He is also this year's commencement speaker for the University's Macon ceremony on May 16.
The May 11 event, which will take place at 10 a.m. at the Maggie Califf Learning Center, 110 Maggie Califf St. in Gray, will include a welcome by Mercer President William D. Underwood and remarks by Virgil Adams, a partner at Adams, Jordan & Herrington P.C. in Macon and fellow Mercer Law graduate who was instrumental in the effort to honor Sands.
Jones County High School Principal Chuck Gibson will also offer remarks, and the Mercer Singers, led by Stanley Roberts, will perform "Georgia on My Mind." A brief reception will follow the ceremony.