Not Only the Judges' Robes Were Black: African-American Lawyers as Social Engineers
49 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2009
Date Written: November 1994
In this review essay, Professor Finkelman praises J. Clay Smith’s Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer for collecting and organizing a vast amount of information on the African-American lawyers in the century following 1844. Smith’s book offers insights on the most famous African-American lawyers of this period and presents new biographical information on many previously unknown lawyers. Professor Finkelman presents additional historical context for Smith’s research and shows how African-American attorneys often had to fight prejudice within the profession even as they represented African-American clients before an often biased and obstinate judiciary. Additionally, Professor Finkelman criticizes the often illogical and confusing organization of the work. Still, he calls Smith’s book an important resource for students of the transformation of civil rights law.
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