Cradled in the Declaration of Independence


Jay Tidmarsh


This book review engages recent scholarship on the nature of civil-rights lawyering in the African-American bar in the generation before Brown v. Board of Education. Using the recent biography of Earl Burrus Dickerson, one of the leaders of the African-American bar before World War II, the book review finds support for the emerging view that, in the years before Brown, the African-American civil-rights bar was not focused on ending de jure segregation in public institutions, but rather in building up African-American institutions. Contrary to recent scholarship, however, the review suggests that Dickerson personally preferred a more integrationist strategy, and his efforts to build up African-American institutions was less a conscious strategy than a realization of the limitations on his ability to practice law as he wished. Freedom of action, rather than racial equality, was Dickerson's great motivator.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Legal History

Date of this Version

October 2006