In a largely previously untold story, Melissa Milewski explores how, when the financial futures of their families were on the line, black litigants throughout the South took on white southerners in civil suits. Between 1865 and 1950, in almost a thousand civil cases across eight southern states, former slaves took their former masters to court, black sharecroppers litigated against white landowners, and African Americans with little formal education brought disputes
against wealthy white members of their communities.
As black southerners negotiated a legal system with almost all white gatekeepers, they displayed pragmatism and a savvy understanding of how to get whites on their side. They found that certain kinds of cases were much easier to gain whites' support for than others. But they also found that, in the kinds of civil cases that they could litigate in the highest courts of eight states, they were also surprisingly successful. In a tremendously restricted environment in which they were often shut out
of other government institutions, seen as racially inferior, and segregated, African Americans found a way to fight for their rights in one of the only ways they could.
This book examines how African Americans adapted and at times made a biased system work for them under enormous constraints. At the same time, it considers the limitations of working within a white-dominated system at a time of great racial discrimination, and the choices black litigants had to make to have their cases heard.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 360
Weight: 612 g
Dimensions: 239 x 164 x 30 mm
Milewski (Univ. of Sussex, UK) offers a different story by looking at how African American litigants fared during Jim Crow in civil cases against white Southerners in former Confederate states... Outstanding for collections on US legal history, civil rights, and discrimination... Essential * CHOICE *
Milewski's Litigating Across the Color Line uses cross-race civil suits to tell an important story about access to justice in a society dedicated to the principle of white supremacy.As a story of black legal agency, the book makes an ambitious case in a setting that will seem surprising to many readers... Milewski shows that the kinds of suits black people litigated changed along with the kinds of arguments they made in those suits. This is a signal
achievement. * Dylan C. Penningroth, Social History *
This is not an easy topic to research, and one of the pleasures of Litigating Across the Color Line is Milewski's discussion of the challenges posed by her research subject and the creative solutions upon which she settled ...[I]mpressive archival research ...[O]ffers powerful insights about dynamics of the black freedom struggle ...The reconstruction of this remarkable story is a major contribution to legal historical scholarship. * Christopher W. Schmidt, Jotwell *