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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. (more…)