The riveting story of the two crusading lawyers who led the legal battle to end segregation, one case and one courtroom at a time
The Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education is widely considered a seminal point in the battle to end segregation, but it was in fact the culmination of a decades-long legal campaign. Root and Branch is the epic story of the two fiercely dedicated lawyers who led the fight from county courthouses to the marble halls of the Supreme Court, and, in the process, laid the legal foundations of the civil rights movement.
Charles Hamilton Houston was the pioneer: After becoming the first African-American on the Harvard Law Review, he transformed the law school at all-black Howard University into a West Point for civil rights advocacy.
One of Houston's students at Howard was a brash young man named Thurgood Marshall. Soon after Marshall's graduation, Houston and Marshall opened the NAACP's legal office. The abstemious, proper Houston and the folksy, easygoing Marshall made an unlikely duo, but together they faced down angry Southern mobs, negotiated with presidents and senators, and convinced even racist judges and juries that the Constitution demanded equal justice under law for all American citizens.
Houston, tragically, would die before his strategy came to fruition in the Brown suit, but Marshall would argue the case victoriously and go on to become the first African-American Supreme Court justice - always crediting his mentor for teaching him everything he knew. Together, the two advocates changed the course of American history.
"With deft portrayals of Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall and captivating accounts of the cases they were involved in, Rawn James, Jr. brings back to our attention two central figures in the nation's efforts to use constitutional law to confront and overcome our history of segregation and racism." (Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School)
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Yes, the book was so mesmerizing I will have to buy it to add it to my library. Courageous men.
It would be wrong of me to pick only one: Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall
Root and Branch
For most of us who try to find the right books that will provide solace and excitement sometimes the task is daunting. We find authors we thoroughly enjoy and even remain loyal through some books which are not as engaging and force us to wonder if we’ve wasted our money. Root and Branch, by Rawn James, is undoubtedly one of the best biography(s) and history book written. This book was better than a number of suspense/thrillers I’ve read/listened to in the past 21 years. I’m impressed with his ability to remove himself from the story and keep out all biases, report only the facts. He retells the story of some of America’s greatest men, civil rights activists, lawyer’s, and hero’s the country has ever produced. Not to mention their strong character, convictions, and duty to justice.
I originally ordered the book in an audio format and listened to the story as I worked and drove about. I’m so impressed that I am to purchase the book and make it a part of my library.
We start with Charles Hamilton Houston as a child growing up in Washington, D.C.; in a life of affluence not easily afforded to African-American’s of his time. We journey with him as he struggles through the segregated Army in the First Great War (WWI), as he goes on to become the first African-American to serve on the Harvard Law Review. He transforms Howard Law School to become an impressionable institution of judicial character, meeting Thurgood Marshall and winning their first case together; going on to cement a lifetime of mentorship and friendship. We listen as the men go on to challenge the hardships and segregation of the Jim Crow Era and solidify a place for all people at the table of educational equality.
I am extremely impressed with Mr. James’ literary abilities; his historical accuracy and prowess. Great Job!
Great historical read
- Tommy Harris