Jewish lawyers and the long civil rights movement 1933-1965: race, rights and representation

Albin, Linda (2018) Jewish lawyers and the long civil rights movement 1933-1965: race, rights and representation. Masters thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This dissertation demonstrates that the collective contribution of Jewish lawyers to the long civil rights movement in America was greater than the dominant narrative has suggested. It places those lawyers in three distinct periods, which correspond with three phases in the development of civil rights struggle: the New Deal era of the 1930s, when they served as labor lawyers; in the 1940s and 1950s, when they became constitutional litigators fighting institutional discrimination in the courts; and in the 1960s, when they became movement lawyers and supported civil rights activists. What the work here shows is a sustained commitment on the part of Jewish lawyers to a broad rights agenda—one in which race was consistently a factor, but which also included economic and workers’ rights as well.

The work draws, in part upon interviews with veteran lawyers and their oral histories, and in doing so demonstrates that a commitment to social justice was rooted in a liberal Jewish culture—a belief in the Constitution and what it means to be an American citizen with all of the attendant rights and responsibilities. It also draws upon documentary archival materials, which show the exceptional levels of cooperation that existed between Jewish and African American organizations, especially in the area of litigation and how, acting out of mutual self-interest, they used the courts and the law to effect social outcomes in housing, education and employment.

While most Jewish lawyers were not civil rights lawyers, a disproportionately large number were. This project represents a critical intervention in civil rights history by addressing an omission in legal and social historiography by demonstrating the collective contribution by Jewish lawyers who used the law in the long struggle for rights and in doing so helped to change the legal and social landscape of an increasingly pluralistic America.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Gillian Aldus
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2019 13:36
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2019 13:36
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/71885
DOI:

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