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Justice Older than the Law: The Life of Dovey Johnson Roundtree (Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies) Paperback – March 30, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (March 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1617031216
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617031212
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,211,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Dovey Roundtree is my hero. As a young public defender, I watched with amazement her great work in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Knowing what she has overcome and her amazing accomplishments as not only a graduate of Spelman College and Howard Law School, but also as a superb lawyer, I am convinced that her story will be comforting to anyone facing obstacles. This is not only a great read, but a must read. I recommend it to anyone thinking about justice or trying to find ways to overcome challenges they face."

--Charles J. Ogletree, Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, founding and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, and author of Without Parole: America New Death Penalty



"I simply loved this book. I have a proclivity for fiction and find the character "Dovey" a real, heartfelt woman whose humble beginnings reflect the progress of the race from the 1920s to the 1960s. Her matriculation at Spelman, her internal conflict entering the "middle class," mentoring by Mary McLeod Bethune, all humanize the raw emotions thousands of early twentieth-century achievers must have encountered with living the dreams of the entire African American community. Kudos in crafting an engaging read from the well-lived life of minister, lawyer, military and humanitarian Dovey. Amazing story."

--Citation of the judges, 2009 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize, Association of Black Women Historians



"Justice Older than the Law moved me at times to tears. Dovey Roundtree's nobility, the courage and effectiveness of her work, are enough to restore one's hope for the human race. The book, though it describes an era that is past, is above all a study of something that doesn't change much---human character and its possibilities."

--Time magazine essayist Lance Morrow



"In Justice Older Than the Law: The Life of Dovey Johnson Roundtree we meet the pioneering lawyer and minister who was among the first black female World War II military officers. We learn how she prevailed in a desegregation case that ended 'separate but equal' interstate bus travel and won acquittal for a slow-witted black man accused of murdering a mistress of John F. Kennedy.

"But the new book also manages to immerse readers in Roundtree's life, creating a real sense of what it was like to live as a black person in segregated Charlotte and the Jim Crow South. Often, the narrative reads like a work of fiction. McCabe accomplishes this partly by writing in Roundtree's first-person voice. 'I became more and more convinced, if my goal was to get her soul and her spirit across to people, that could only be done with her voice,' McCabe says.

"To mark the book's publication, first lady Michelle Obama has written a letter of tribute. 'It is on the shoulders of people like Dovey Johnson Roundtree that we stand today,' the first lady writes, 'and it is with her commitment to our core ideals that we will continue moving toward a better tomorrow.'"

--Charlotte Observer



"Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe invite you to enter a home, sit down in the 'Living Room of a Black American Family,' to visit with them for a little while. You will learn so very much about determination, values, courage, manners, and the moral strength of this family. The experience will enhance your appreciation for the struggles and achievements against the odds, and the meanness of stereotypes. And you will observe the beauty and grace of honest efforts toward good and useful lives. You will see and learn American history and human history at its best."

--Dr. Walter J. Leonard, former president of Fisk University and founding committee chair of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University



"To read how Dovey Roundtree struggled to help others and to make a difference in our world is exalting. This book tells what one determined, unstoppable woman did with her life to change laws and traditions to make America a better, fairer, and more respectful country. It gives us another view of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and other historic icons through her interaction with them. Katie McCabe has done a formidable job of entering Dovey's mind, memory, and soul to produce this first-person account of a woman of our history whose virtues we should enshrine on a pedestal of honor."

--Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, USAF (Ret.), President, Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation

Review

"I simply loved this book. I have a proclivity for fiction and find the character "Dovey" a real, heartfelt woman whose humble beginnings reflect the progress of the race from the 1920s to the 1960s. Her matriculation at Spelman, her internal conflict entering the "middle class," mentoring by Mary McLeod Bethune, all humanize the raw emotions thousands of early twentieth-century achievers must have encountered with living the dreams of the entire African American community...Kudos in crafting an engaging read from the well-lived life of minister, lawyer, military and humanitarian Dovey...Amazing story." --Citation of the judges, 2009 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize, Association of Black Women Historians In "Justice Older Than the Law: The Life of Dovey Johnson Roundtree," we meet the pioneering lawyer and minister who was among the first black female World War II military officers. We learn how she prevailed in a desegregation case that ended "separate but equal" interstate bus travel and won acquittal for a slow-witted black man accused of murdering a mistress of John F. Kennedy. But the new book...also manages to immerse readers in Roundtree's life, creating a real sense of what it was like to live as a black person in segregated Charlotte and the Jim Crow South. Often, the narrative reads like a work of fiction. McCabe...accomplishes this partly by writing in Roundtree's first-person voice..."I became more and more convinced, if my goal was to get her soul and her spirit across to people, that could only be done with her voice," McCabe says. To mark the book's publication, first lady Michelle Obama has written a letter of tribute. "It is on the shoulders of people like Dovey Johnson Roundtree that we stand today," the first lady writes, "and it is with her commitment to our core ideals that we will continue moving toward a better tomorrow." --Charlotte Observer, 24 August 2009 "Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe invite you to enter a home, sit down in the `Living Room of a Black American Family'; to visit with them for a little while. You will learn so very much about determination, values, courage, manners, and the moral strength of this family. The experience will enhance your appreciation for the struggles and achievements against the odds, and the meanness of stereotypes. And you will observe the beauty and grace of honest efforts toward good and useful lives. You will see and learn American history and human history at its best." --Dr. Walter J. Leonard, former president of Fisk University and founding committee chair of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University "To read how Dovey Roundtree struggled to help others and to make a difference in our world is exalting. This book tells what one determined, unstoppable woman did with her life to change laws and traditions to make America a better, fairer, and more respectful country. It gives us another view of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and other historic icons through her interaction with them. Katie McCabe has done a formidable job of entering Dovey's mind, memory, and soul to produce this first-person account of a woman of our history whose virtues we should enshrine on a pedestal of honor." --Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, USAF (Ret.), President, Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.

More About the Author

Washington writer Katie McCabe, the co-author, with Dovey Roundtree, of Justice Older than the Law, is a nationally recognized non-fiction writer whose work on unsung heroes, particularly in the African American community, has garnered wide attention, both in print and in film.
Her National Magazine Award-winning Washingtonian article on black cardiac surgery pioneer Vivien Thomas, "Like Something the Lord Made," formed the basis for the 2004 Emmy and 2005 Peabody Award-winning HBO film Something the Lord Made, one of the highest rated original movies in HBO history. The American Film Institute, which named "Something the Lord Made" the Best TV Movie of 2004, called it "a revelation...a bittersweet story that is an important tool for America as it continues to search for a public vocabulary to discuss issues of race."
That search has defined a large part of Katie McCabe's work, bringing her, in 1995, to take on the story of pioneering lawyer, minister and Army veteran Dovey Johnson Roundtree, who rose from poverty in the Jim Crow South to become one of Washington's premiere trial attorneys. Ms. Roundtree was recognized in 2000 by the American Bar Association with its Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. On the occasion of the book's release in July '09, First Lady Michelle Obama saluted Dovey Roundtree in a letter which read in part, "It is on the shoulders of people like Dovey Roundtree that we stand today, and it is with her commitment to our core ideals that we will continue moving toward a better tomorrow."
Justice Older than the Law is the product of a 15-year collaboration between Katie McCabe and Dovey Roundtree which began shortly before Ms. Roundtree's retirement to Charlotte in 1996 and survived the obstacles of distance, of Mrs. Roundtree's blindness and her failing health. The book, which chronicles the stunning achievements of one of the nation's great women of the law, won the Association of Black Women Historians' 2009 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize for the best publication on an African American woman.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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My book club chose this book because Dovey served as a WAAC and did her training in our area.
Melissa
Dovey's story is facinating, and author Katie McCabe is masterful in her ability to write in Dovey's voice.
Susie Aguirre
What that grandmother inspires Dovey to go on and do with courage and grace is this amazing story.
Caran McKee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Fraas on November 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Justice Older Than The Law: The Life of Dovey Johnson Roundtree by Katie McCabe and Dovey Johnson Roundtree is an excellent read. Told in the first person, the story focuses on the life of Charlotte native Dovey Johnson Roundtree, a pioneer in securing civil rights for both women and blacks. Those looking for role models to inspire young people today should make sure this book gets in the hands of our schools and libraries. Despite her many personal achievements (an officer in the Women's Army Corps; a Howard University law school graduate, a practicing attorney in D.C, a minister), Dovey dwells on those who gave her the means to cope with the trials and challenges of her life, beginning and ending with her grandmother, Charlottean Rachel Bryant Graham. Inspired by her grandmother, whose feet were broken by a white man who tried to take advantage of her in her youth, and by other mentors including her Spelman College professor, Mary Mae Neptune, Dovey Johnson Roundtree defies the racial and gender stereotypes and barriers of her day to become an attorney noted for taking on "lost causes." As a law student at Howard University, Dovey sat in on practice sessions with Thurgood Marshall and her own professor James Madison Nabrit, Jr., as they strategised to end the "lie" of Plessy v. Ferguson, the decision that affirmed segregation and crushed the hearts and minds of generations of black children in the South. The behind the scenes look at pivotal civil rights cases, including Brown V. Board of Education and her own case in Sarah Keys V. Carolina, is told with emphasis on the human cost of segregated transportationthe systems and school systems. Credit goes to Dovey's writing partner Katie McCabe who tells Dovey's story with a journalist's expertise for narrative and human detail.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Columbus Scarlett on October 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When a good friend of mine recommended that I read "Justice Older Than the Law," I wondered who Dovey Johnson Roundtree was and why she merited a book about her life. After all, I had lived in the Deep South for 19 years and had never heard of her. That was my misfortune. After reading the book, written by Katie McCabe after years of research and interviews, I have concluded that Ms. Roundtree should be a household name like Rosa Parks. Roundtree was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement before it was even recognized as a movement. She blazed trails for African Americans and women in the United States military, in the legal profession, and in the ministry. She suffered discrimination and cruelty at every turn, but persevered largely because of the influence of other strong women in her life, starting with her grandmother. Although the majority of the book deals with the '40's, '50's, and '60's, Roundtree (through McCabe) has a profound message for the families and children today in communities across the country that are plagued by teen violence.

McCabe has captured Roundtree's voice perfectly. If I hadn't read the book jacket and seen McCabe's name, I would have thought that Roundtree had written an autobiography. If you like true stories of strong women who have helped shape history, this book is for you. Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, Mary McLeod Bethune, and even Ben Bradlee have all played a part in Roundtree's life, and what a life it has been.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kate Alcott, author of 'The Dressmaker ' on August 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've thought for years that Dovey Roundtree deserved to have her story told, and now - through the graceful writing of Katie McCabe - it has been. From the first few pages to the last, the reader is drawn in by the courage and perseverance of a remarkable woman who played a key part in the history of the civil rights movement. Roundtree never gave up pushing back against poverty, racism, and the resistance of those who would deny a black woman a future in the law. There is no sense of duty reading this book; it is not a homework assignment. McCabe's narrative skills pull one in as seductively as a novel.
I hope it will be read particularly by young people who will find themselves - if they do - lifting their heads at the end of the book, saying "So THAT'S the way it was." A story of an American century told through the life of one brave woman. I highly recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. William A. Fry on January 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
JUSTICE OLDER THAN THE LAW: THE LIFE OF DOVEY JOHNSON ROUNDTREE(2009) by Katie McCabe, award-winning author, in collaboration with Dovey Johnson Roundtree, is a riveting journey through American history from an African American perspective. McCabe spent nearly fifteen years working closely with Roundtree on this eloquent biography written by McCabe but using Dovey's own words acquired over more than a decade of close friendship with this amazing heroic icon of African American history. McCabe uses the first person point of view in capturing the essence of Roundtree's contribution to American history which makes this engrossing biography read more like an autobiography. In addition, she utilizes a novel format, a flowing style, and a sense of drama that never sinks to sentimentality -- all of these writing techniques make McCabe's biography truly a literary work to be savored page-by-page.

McCabe's genius in this book is that she allows Dovey to speak for herself as she courageously battles for civil rights in the Jim Crow South, as a woman in the military, and in the legal profession of the Nation's Capital. Born in 1914, Dovey Roundtree has spent her life fighting for justice for all humanity. A retired Army veteran, Roundtree is a retired lawyer who has taken civil rights cases to the Supreme Court in the 1950's and serves as a minister in the AME Church. Living today in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dovey Johnson Roundtree can look back over a long career of breaking gender and color barriers and be very proud of her accomplishments. She is truly an icon of American history and McCabe's biography is a true testament to this outstanding pioneer in the fight for human rights.
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