Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers:
Reflections from the Deep South, 1964–1980

Edited by Kent Spriggs

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"One of the great, largely unknown stories of American history. This volume is a wonderfully evocative demonstration of something often discounted--how important law and lawyers were, and remain, in realizing the promise of full equality for all citizens."--Kenneth W. Mack, author of Representing the Race

"Filled with tales of ordinary people exhibiting extraordinary courage, Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers provides a penetrating and vital new perspective on one of the most turbulent and important periods in American history."--Lawrence Goldstone, author of Inherently Unequal

"Spriggs has performed a great service for future historians and for all of us by collecting the personal memories of lawyers who put their boots on the ground and their lives on the line in the Deep South during the tumultuous civil rights movement."--James Blacksher, civil rights attorney, Birmingham, Alabama

"The different voices are incredibly effective at both describing a harrowing series of events for the lawyers and allowing readers to hear how they interpreted those events in their own individual ways. A powerful work."--Thomas Aiello, author of Jim Crow's Last Stand


While bus boycotts, sit-ins, and other acts of civil disobedience were the engine of the civil rights movement, the law provided context for these events. Lawyers played a key role amid profound political and social upheavals, vindicating clients and together challenging white supremacy. Here, in their own voices, twenty-six lawyers reveal the abuses they endured and the barriers they broke as they fought for civil rights.


These eyewitness accounts provide unique windows into some of the most dramatic moments in civil rights history--the 1965 Selma March, the first civil judgment against the Ku Klux Klan, the creation of ballot access for African Americans in Alabama, and the 1968 Democratic Convention. The narratives depict attorney-client relationships extraordinary in their mutual trust and commitment to risk-taking. White and black, male and female, northern- and southern-born, these recruits in the battle for freedom helped shape a critical chapter of American history.

Kent Spriggs, author of the two-volume Representing Plaintiffs in Title VII Actions, has been a civil rights lawyer for over fifty years. He practices in Tallahassee, Florida, where he was a city commissioner and mayor.
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