White Lawyer, Black Power
A Memoir of Civil Rights Activism in the Deep South
In White Lawyer, Black Power, Jelinek recounts the battles he fought in defense of militant civil rights activists and rural African Americans, risking his career and his life to further the struggle for racial equality as an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and an attorney for the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union. Jelinek arrived in the Deep South at a pivotal moment in the movement's history as frustration over the failure of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to improve the daily lives of southern blacks led increasing numbers of activists to question the doctrine of nonviolence.
Jelinek offers a fresh perspective that emphasizes the complex dynamics and relationships that shaped the post-1965 black power era. Replete with sharply etched, complex portraits of the personalities Jelinek encountered, from the rank-and-file civil rights workers who formed the backbone of the movement to the younger, more radical, up-and-coming leaders like Stokely Carmichael and H. "Rap" Brown, White Lawyer, Black Power provides a powerful and sometimes harrowing firsthand account of one of the most significant struggles in American history.
John Dittmer, professor emeritus of American history at DePauw University and author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, provides a foreword.
About the Author
"Vivid, powerful, and deeply personal, this narrative of a white lawyer's experience serving the civil rights movement during the turbulent Black power era provides fresh new insights into the most important social movement of our history."—William H. Chafe, Duke University
"An autobiographical history clearly demonstrating how Black lives did not matter in the Jim Crow South. . . . A sharply etched memoir of the struggle for civil rights."—Kirkus Reviews
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