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Interview With Alvin J. Bronstein

Elwood, William A; Kulish, Mykola
Format
Online; Online Video; Video
Date
2006; 1987-07-14
Duration
57:56
Summary
Part one. J. Clay Smith talks about Charles Hamilton Houston as the architect of the modern civil rights movement. From 3:50 to 10:40, footage of Houston and William Hastie portraits. From 10:40 to end, Alvin J. Bronstein interviewed in his office. As a young lawyer Mr. Bronstein traveled south in 1964 for Freedom Summer. He was sent to St. Augustine, Florida to work on a law suit that would force hotels to serve African Americans. He then went to Mississippi and stayed for five years as a trial lawyer in Macomb where there had been 37 church bombings. He set up offices around the South as part of the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee funded by the ACLU. In 1968, civil rights cases in Mississippi had changed from defense of African Americans to cases advocating for rights. Part two. After Mississippi Mr. Bronstein went to Harvard for three years, then down to New Orleans, where he set up a training program for young African American lawyers. In 1972, he started the ACLU National Prison Project after the Attica prison riot. Mr. Bronstein describes what happened at Attica State Prison in New York. He explains the connection between civil rights and prisoner rights movements. He discusses what prisoner rights are or should be, the state of prisoner rights law in the mid-1980s, the death penalty, and incarceration rates. He says that poor people and people of color make up the prison population, and incarceration is not cost-effective. Part three. Mr. Bronstein recalls Judge Harold Cox in Mississippi referring to African Americans as chimpanzees while in court; the same judge presided over the trial of law enforcement officers for killing Chaney, Schwerner, Goodman in Mississippi in 1967, and he expressed outrage at the defendants and said the guilty verdict rendered was the proudest moment of his career. Lolis Elie, Nils Douglas, and Robert Collins were lawyers who practiced together but couldn't take the same taxi or eat in the same restaurant; now, these lawyers are highly placed judges in Mississippi. Mr. Bronstein says that Scandinavian countries have the best example of an incarceration system and that allowing prisoners to maintain contact with families is an important part of rehabilitation. Mr. Bronstein discusses a famous case called Battle v. Anderson.
Creator
Elwood, William A
Kulish, Mykola
Interviewee
Bronstein, Alvin J
Language
English
Notes
Digitized by: Cincinnati, Ohio : The PPS Group, 2006.
Source footage for the documentary, The road to Brown : the untold story of “the man who killed Jim Crow” (California Newsreel, 1990), about the life of Charles Hamilton Houston, his crusade for civil rights, and the events that led to Brown v. the Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared the doctrine of separate but equal to be illegal.
Title supplied by cataloger.
Recorded at Washington DC.
Collection
William A. Elwood Civil Rights Lawyers Project
Related Items
Road to Brown : the untold story of "the man who killed Jim Crow."
William A. Elwood Civil Rights Lawyers Project

Part one of three.

Part two of three.

Part three of three.