Rebels in Law: Voices in History of Black Women Lawyers

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Beginning with a short essay written in 1897, the writing collected by J. Clay Smith, Jr., tells us how black women came to the practice of law, the challenges they faced as women and as blacks in making a place for themselves in the legal profession, their fight to become legal educators, and their efforts to encourage other black women and black men to come to the practice of law. Black women lawyers are not new to the practice of law or to leadership in the fight for justice and quality. Black women formally entered the practice of American law in 1872, the year that Charlotte E. Ray became the first black woman to graduate from an American law school. Rebels in Lawintroduces some of these women and through their own writing tells a compelling story about the little-known involvement of black women in law and politics.

The essays demonstrate the involvement of black women lawyers in important public issues of our time and show them addressing the sensitive subjects of race, equality, justice and freedom. Drawing together many writings that have never been published or have been published in obscure journals or newspapers, Rebels in Law is a groundbreaking study. In addition, it offers historical background information on each writer and on the history of black women lawyers.

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Editorial Reviews

Constance Johnson
Rebels in Law is a unique slice of history, just as riveting and certainly more worthwhile than the latest offering from John Grisham or the most recent best-selling legal thriller. J. Clay Smith Jr. has done a fine job.
Black Issues Book Review
New York Law Journal
... Rebels in Law speaks to all Americans about individual achievement and determination against barriers. We learn that through the courageous efforts black women attorneys have made to ensure equal justice and equality under the law for all persons, our society has become a better place.
Sandra Hicks Cox
". . . an unbelievably valuable addition to the paucity of information available about the contributions of black women lawyers to the profession. . . . [P]eople of color of both sixes will relate to these stories, including as they do many of the issues faced on a daily basis as they seek to become successful, effective participants in the legal profession. . . . It] should be required reading for all women law students as well as young women in high school and college who have legal aspirations. All members of the learned profession of law, regardless of race or gender will benefit from its reading. . . .
Women Lawyers Journal, Summer 1999
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472108831
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/1998
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.52 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Law Is No Mystery to Black Women 1
Pt. 1 Law and Its Call to Black Women 9
Miss Lutie Lytle Speaks in 1897 11
Law and Its Call to Women 13
Legal Profession Followed by Nation's Best Known Socialites 16
Women in the Law 24
Forty-five Years a Woman Lawyer 26
Jet-Propelled into the Law 29
Sheer Determination Brought Me Through 32
Forty Years a Lawyer 34
Lawyers Are Leaders in the Community 36
Law Teacher, Lawyer and Judge 38
Some Recollections of My Career 41
Pt. 2 The Power of Black Women 47
Women Lawyers Must Balk Both Color and Sex Bias 49
Constitutional Law and Black Women 52
Women Must Wield Their Power for the Sake of Justice 60
The Power of Black Women to Tell Their Stories 64
The Black Woman: Who Represents Her? 70
Pt. 3 Legal Education, the Legal Academy, and the Legal Profession 77
Pauli Murray's Appeal: For Admission to Harvard Law School 79
Second Black Woman at University of Michigan's Law School 84
Breaking New Ground with Grace: The University of Michigan's First Black Woman Law Graduate 86
Neither a Whisper Nor a Shout 90
Antioch's Fight against Neutrality in Legal Education 102
There Is a Future for Black Lawyers 106
Problems within the Legal Profession 111
Pt. 4 On Presidents and Judges 113
The Most Dangerous Election in History 115
Surviving the Reagan Years 117
President Clinton's Doubt; Lani Guinier's Certainty 123
Robert Bork Should Sit on High Court 128
Clarence Thomas Should Not Sit on High Court 131
In Clarence Thomas You Hope for a Miracle 137
Thurgood Marshall Spoke for Humble People 139
Pt. 5 Race, Equality, Justice, and Freedom 141
Racism Is a Deadly Force in America 144
Democracy and Race 147
The Confederate Flag as Racist Symbolism 150
The Issue of Race 156
Black Strategies: Responding to Thomas Sowell. I Know Where You're Coming from, But... 162
White Racism; Black Dissent 165
African Americans Must Reject Anti-Semitism 167
Black Political Power 169
The Negro Woman in the Quest for Equality 172
Female Liberation and Human Survival 178
When American Democracy Becomes a Sham 182
The Underdeveloped Resource 186
Justice and Values in Government 190
Erosion of Civil Liberties 196
Political Correctness: Professor Linda S. Greene vs. Robert Bork 201
The United States Owes Reparations to Its Black Citizens 204
Give Colored Women the Right to Vote 211
The Necessity of Universal Suffrage 213
The Role of Law in Effecting Social Change 217
New Civil Rights Demands: White Resistance 221
Dynamics of Change 224
Minority Coalitions to Secure Civil Rights 228
Freedom of Gay Citizens from Discrimination 231
Pt. 6 Crime and Criminal Justice 234
The Female Inmate 237
Our Present Violent Crime and Drug Policies Conceived out of Fear and Politics 242
Pt. 7 International Concerns 246
Pioneer at the Department of State 249
Human Rights and Social Relations 251
Citation for Persons Killed in Service of the United Nations 253
Speaking Out against Duplicity in Foreign Policy 255
Women and Minorities in International Law 257
The Japanese Buraku Problem: A Foreigner's Perspective 260
App. A The First Black Women's Legal Sorority 267
App. B Pioneering Facts about Black Women Lawyers and Law Teachers 277
App. C U.S. Census: The Number of Women Lawyers by Race and Nationality in Each State/Select Territories and the Combined Total of Male Lawyers (all races), 1950-90 284
Contributors 299
Index 315
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