From Publishers Weekly
In this dry but intriguing memoir, Carter, a U.S. District judge in New York, offers an insider's account of the legal battle to end segregation in the United States. Having served as Thurgood Marshall's chief legal assistant and then as General Counsel to the NAACP, Carter was pivotal in winning the Brown v. Board of Education case that outlawed racial segregation in public schools. Carter begins by describing his impoverished New Jersey childhood, the deaths of three of his siblings and the educational discrimination that "toughened him for later battles with racism." Although he also recounts his college years and his tumultuous experience in the army, Carter devotes most of the book to his legal career, detailing the events and strategies that led to the Brown vs. Board triumph. Perhaps most fascinating is Carter's take on the power struggles within the NAACP. Carter had a tepid relationship with Marshall, and he admits to feeling "hurt and angry" at being overlooked as his successor. Indeed, some may wonder if he still harbors a little of that anger; his portrayal of Marshall as a high-stakes gambler and an ambitious man who discarded people when their "usefulness to him was over" is less than flattering. Still, those who can take these details with a grain of salt and overlook Carter's plodding prose will find this a unique perspective on how the Civil Rights victory was won.
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Carter was a pivotal figure in the struggle for racial equality and one of the legal architects in the NAACP attack on racial segregation that culminated in the Brown
decision. His memoir is as understated as he was effective as a legal tactician in the struggle. As deputy counsel to Thurgood Marshall, he provided the legal substantive content and context that Marshall evoked as the nation's premier civil rights advocate. Carter offers insight into the workings of the NAACP and the subsequent break off with its Legal Defense Fund, which lead to Jack Greenberg's ascension as Marshall was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Carter exposes the undercutting of his initial effort to secure a position on the U.S. Federal Court by none other than U.S. congressman Adam Clayton Powell. Carter later came to Powell's rescue--at no charge--when the House attempted to unseat him. Carter, for more than 30 years serving on the federal bench in New York, is an example of social commitment and activism at its highest. Vernon FordCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved