New and Notable: Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality

Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality

By Richard Kluger
New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 2004
KF4155.K55 2004

From Dean Mark Niles:

Simple Justice is the story of the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education that outlawed racial segregation in public schools in the United States and of the people, policies and strategies that led up to the decision. It tells hundreds of stories spanning several decades involving the multiple cases that were joined together in the Brown appeal, and all the work of lawyers, law professors and other citizens that helped move the nation to this historic decision.

I first read the book when I was in middle school and I was particularly drawn even then to the story of Charles Hamilton Houston, a dean at Howard University Law School in the 1920’s. Houston was the primary architect of the successful NAACP legal strategy that led, step by step, to the Brown decision. He was also a central driving force in the education of the attorneys, including future Solicitor General and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who would carry this strategy into the nation’s courtrooms. The book gave me the sense at an early age of the power of both law and lawyers to achieve social change and the important role that law schools (and law school deans) can play in that process.

I keep my old copy of the book on my desk to remind me of the potential for legal education and educators to pursue and promote social justice in our communities.

Simple Justice

From the Publisher:
Simple Justice is the definitive history of the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education and the epic struggle for racial equality in this country. Combining intensive research with original interviews with surviving participants, Richard Kluger provides the fullest possible view of the human and legal drama in the years before 1954, the cumulative assaults on the white power structure that defended segregation, and the step-by-step establishment of a team of inspired black lawyers that could successfully challenge the law. Now, on the fiftieth anniversary of the unanimous Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation, Kluger has updated his work with a new final chapter covering events and issues that have arisen since the book was first published, including developments in civil rights and recent cases involving affirmative action, which rose directly out of Brown v. Board of Education.


About the Author:
Richard Kluger is the author of Ashes to Ashes: America’s Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris, which won the Pulitzer Prize. His Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality and The Paper: The Life and Death of the New York Herald Tribune both were finalists for the National Book Award. He is the author or coauthor of eight novels as well. He lives in Northern California.

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