Journals Higher Education



Published: 11 June 1998

352 Pages | 43 photos

5-5/16 x 8 inches

ISBN: 9780195122886

Also Available As:


Bookseller Code (04)

Shades of Freedom

Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process

A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.

In Shades of Freedom, Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. provides a magisterial account of the interaction between the law and racial oppression in America from colonial times to the present, demonstrating how the one agent that should have guaranteed equal treatment before the law--the judicial system--instead played a dominant role in enforcing the inferior position of blacks. The issue of racial inferiority is central to this volume, as Judge Higginbotham documents how early white perceptions of black inferiority slowly became codified into law.
Perhaps the most powerful and insightful writing centers on a pair of famous Supreme Court cases, which Judge Higginbotham uses to portray race relations at two vital moments in our history--the Dred Scott decision of 1857, and the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896. Judge Higginbotham also documents the eloquent voices that opposed the openly racist workings of the judicial system, and he shows that, ironically, it was the conservative Supreme Court of the 1930s that began the attack on school segregation, and overturned the convictions of African Americans in the famous Scottsboro case. But, today, racial bias still dominates the nation, Judge Higginbotham concludes, as he shows how in six recent court cases, the public perception of black inferiority continues to persist.
In Shades of Freedom, a noted scholar and celebrated jurist offers a work of magnificent scope, insight, and passion. Ranging from the earliest colonial times to the present, it is a superb work of history--and a mirror to the American soul.


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