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: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer

"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: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903

"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: Nonunanimous Criminal Jury Verdicts in Louisiana


While bus boycotts, sit-ins, and other acts of civil disobedience were the engine of the civil rights movement, the law was a primary context. Lawyers played a key role amid profound social upheavals, and the twenty-six contributors to this volume reveal what it was like to be a southern civil rights lawyer in this era.

These eyewitness accounts provide unique windows onto the most dramatic moments in civil rights history, illuminating the legal fights that heralded the 1965 Selma March, the first civil judgment against the Ku Klux Klan, the creation of ballot access for blacks in Alabama, and the 1968 Democratic Convention. White and black, male and female, northern- and southern-born, these lawyers discuss both the abuses they endured and the barriers they broke as they 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 fifty-one years. He is an attorney at Spriggs Law Firm in Tallahassee, Florida.
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