Marshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood Marshall by Michael G. Long | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Marshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood Marshall

Marshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood Marshall

by Michael G. Long
     
 

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Collected here together for the first time are the selected letters of one of the most influential and important activists in the American civil rights movement—the brilliant legal mind and foot soldier for justice, Thurgood Marshall.

For twenty years prior to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a rebellious young attorney with the National Association for the

Overview

Collected here together for the first time are the selected letters of one of the most influential and important activists in the American civil rights movement—the brilliant legal mind and foot soldier for justice, Thurgood Marshall.

For twenty years prior to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a rebellious young attorney with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Thurgood Marshall, struggled tirelessly to combat racism, discrimination, and segregation in schools, transportation, the military, businesses, and voting booths across America. This collection of letters, compiled and edited by Michael G. Long, and written by Thurgood Marshall during his tenure with the NAACP—long before he became a Supreme Court justice—reveals this remarkable man’s extraordinary intellectual development and invaluable contributions to the civil rights movement, highlighting his relentless work in helping secure equality and justice for all Americans.

Long traces Marshall’s correspondence with the most powerful leaders of his day—J. Edgar Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, NAACP leader Walter White, and many others—cataloging how Marshall was able to accomplish in the courts what Martin Luther King Jr. would work to do from the pulpit and on the streets. Through these letters, we discover a startling new portrait of Marshall and gain a deeper understanding of the influences that spurred his unrelenting advocacy for society’s most vulnerable. A window into the history and radical roots of the modern civil rights movement, these letters illuminate the strides that one man made, and the distance that still yawns between his goals and present-day reality.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Readers for whom Marshall is best known for arguing and winning Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954 and becoming the first African-American Supreme Court Justice in 1967 will find this collection of letters written between 1935 and 1957 thoroughly illuminating. Long's introductions lend a fluidity and coherence to the book; he presents each letter with so much context that the book has elements of a biography of Marshall and a history of the civil rights movement. The letters--which span Marshall's legal career from his first major civil rights case, Murray v. Pearson, in 1936--contain a rich vein of local history as well as correspondence concerning his major cases. Nor does Marshall's major case law focus deter him from attention to media misrepresentation, racial inequities in pay, military racism, or accounts of prison abuse and the persistence of lynching. "At times," Marshall wrote in 1949, "I get a little anxious about people who have no regard whatsoever for the amount of time necessary for lawyers to prepare this involved type of litigation." These letters offer a welcome and readable inner glimpse into that laborious and complex work. (Jan.) Toward the Setting Sun: John Ross, the Cherokees, and the
USA Today
Marshalling Justice . . . allows us to see more clearly the trail this legendary litigator blazed for civil rights.”
Washington Lawyer
“[E]nlightening. . . . Lawyers will read this book in total awe of Marshall’s accomplishments. It reads like a panoramic, at times kaleidoscopic history of race in America. . . . Long’s collection of Marshall’s record of work is beyond impressive.”
Louisville Courier Journal
“[Marshall’s] letters are plenty fascinating. Not to mention heartbreaking. . . . [Long] has done a wonderful job researching and editing and reminding us of how much we owe to all of our forebears, and this one in particular.”
Sister to Sister
“An inside look at the personality, experiences and business interactions of the man who would become the first black Supreme Court Justice.”
Kenneth J. Cooper
“Thank Michael G. Long for bringing to a wider public . . . [this] well-edited collection of Marshall’s letters.”
Wil Haygood
“This important collection of Thurgood Marshall’s letters poignantly shows the constant motion of his legal mind - and heart - as he soldiered so bravely in pursuit of equal justice. Michael G. Long deserves high praise indeed for unearthing and bringing them to light.”
Kevin Merida
“Long has done the world a service. . . . The Marshall letters he has unearthed paint a vivid portrait of an unwavering warrior. . . . Marshalling Justice reminds us of how much can be learned from the collected correspondence of a great man. ”
Mark Tushnet
“[These] letters vividly illustrate what life was like for African Americans in the mid-twentieth century and what it was like to be the nation’s most important civil rights lawyer. As good a way to get to know Marshall the man and his life as there is.”
Library Journal
As an NAACP attorney, decades before LBJ appointed him to the Supreme Court, Marshall worked tirelessly against racial discrimination and segregation. This selection of letters reveals the depth and breadth of Marshall's work long before what we consider the start of the Civil Rights Movement.
Kirkus Reviews

Long (Religious Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies/Elizabethtown Coll.; Billy Graham and the Beloved Community: America's Evangelist and the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., 2006, etc.) presents an inspiring account of Thurgood Marshall's work as a civil-rights activist.

As the NAACP's leading lawyer between 1934 and 1957, the author writes, Marshall was "known to everyday blacks as 'Mr. Civil Rights,' struggl[ing] day and night against racial discrimination and segregation in schools, transportation, the military, businesses, voting booths, courtrooms, and neighborhoods." According to Long, Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr. emerged as "the two greatest civil rights leaders in the history of the United States." The approximately 200 letters and memoranda reproduced here give a comprehensive overview of Marshall's role in "galvanizing the civil rights movement" and paving the way for the freedom riders. While Marshall's 1954 victory against segregated schools in Brown v. the Board of Education, which he argued before the Supreme Court, and his defense of Rosa Parks in the Montgomery bus boycott were historic legal victories, he worked tirelessly on behalf of ordinary black people who faced lynch mobs, police brutality, biased juries and sentencing to chain gangs for misdemeanors and minor offenses. Although he was primarily a litigator before becoming a judge, he also recognized the importance of grass-roots action when legal action failed—e.g., in 1937, after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on behalf of the Scottsboro Boys (nine African-American youths wrongly convicted of rape and sentenced to be executed), Marshall suggested that a mothers' march be organized to support an appeal for clemency. However, writes Long, he remained wary of the role of "African American militants and individuals with leftist leanings."

A nuanced treatment of a towering figure.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061985188
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/18/2011
Pages:
412
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Kenneth J. Cooper
“Thank Michael G. Long for bringing to a wider public . . . [this] well-edited collection of Marshall’s letters.”
Wil Haygood
“This important collection of Thurgood Marshall’s letters poignantly shows the constant motion of his legal mind - and heart - as he soldiered so bravely in pursuit of equal justice. Michael G. Long deserves high praise indeed for unearthing and bringing them to light.”
Mark Tushnet
“[These] letters vividly illustrate what life was like for African Americans in the mid-twentieth century and what it was like to be the nation’s most important civil rights lawyer. As good a way to get to know Marshall the man and his life as there is.”
Kevin Merida
“Long has done the world a service. . . . The Marshall letters he has unearthed paint a vivid portrait of an unwavering warrior. . . . Marshalling Justice reminds us of how much can be learned from the collected correspondence of a great man. ”

Meet the Author

Michael G. Long is an associate professor of religious studies and peace and conflict studies at Elizabethtown College and is the author or editor of several books on civil rights, religion, and politics in mid-century America, including First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson and Billy Graham and the Beloved Community: America's Evangelist and the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. He holds a Ph.D. from Emory University in Atlanta and resides in Highland Park, Pennsylvania.

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