Last week I interviewed Jack Greenberg, one of the team of lawyers who argued the famous Brown v. Board of Education case, former Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and now a law professor at Columbia.  Professor Greenberg discusses the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s strategy in Brown, the experience of arguing before the Court, the long road to segregation, and his friendship with former Justice Thurgood Marshall.  The eighteen-minute podcast of our interview, linked below, is the latest edition to our Race and the Supreme Court program.

The team of lawyers who argued Brown v. Board: John Scott, James Nabrit, Spottswood Robinson, Frank Reeves, Jack Greenberg, Thurgood Marshall, Louis Redding, U. Simpson Tate, George Hayes.   Photo courtesy of NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Those who watched the podcast earlier this week with Dean Chemerinsky may be interested to know that, toward the end (15:11), Professor Greenberg identifies nearly the same line of Supreme Court cases as Chemerinsky as having undermined Brown and led to re-segregation in public schools.

An outline of highlights from the podcast follows the jump.

  • 0:33–The NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s strategy to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson
  • 3:05–The beginnings of the five Brown cases: equal facilities, not integration
  • 5:40–Expectations: “We thought we would win, because this was after…the Court had said some very condemnatory things about segregation”
  • 6:29–The Legal Defense Fund was always an interracial organization
  • 7:06–The oral arguments: Thurgood Marshall turns a rhetorical flourish by renowned lawyer John W. Davis into a strike for the plaintiffs
  • 9:18–Fierce resistance to the decision
  • 12:02–The impact of Brown on the civil rights movement: When the bus company Rosa Parks challenged was thwarted at the Supreme Court “Brown was the whole opinion”
  • 12:38–When was segregation finally achieved? Alexander v. Holmes County
  • 15:11–In recent rulings, the Supreme Court has “turned Brown on its head”
  • 17:37–Thurgood Marshall and his acceptance of the Solicitor General job

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Posted in Race and the Supreme Court