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Interview With A. Leon Higginbotham

Elwood, William A; Kulish, Mykola
Format
Online; Online Video; Video
Date
2006; 1987-06-06
Duration
1:25:44
Summary
Part one. Judge Higginbotham asserts that the United States Constitution was not revelant to African Americans when it was written except to further enslave them. Judge Higginbotham offers a legal history of the colonies and slavery. Slavery was not codified until 1660, Virginia was the mother of slavery, and Virginia law in the early 1800s made it illegal to teach African Americans to read and write. Judge Higginbotham talks about Charles Coatsworth Pinckney, Judge Ruffin, and how America's success was only possible via slave labor. Part two. Judge Higginbotham's history lesson continues. The 14th amendment was intended to take racism out of American society via due process, but it became the primary instrument to help corporations and everyone else but African Americans. Plessy v. Ferguson codified the separate but equal doctrine, which extended discrimination from trains to just about everywhere else, as the Supreme Court had said it was “reasonable” to do so. The warped interpretation of the 14th amendment impacted women as well. The US Constitution was also originally meaningless to women. Higginbotham discusses Justice Harlan's dissent in Plessy. Part three. Judge Higginbotham explains that Brown v. Board of Education was brought about by earlier cases. Brown was the ninth inning victory compared to all the work that had gone before in civil rights, including Gaines v. Missouri, Sweatt v. Painter, and McLaurin v. Oklahoma. Higginbotham discusses Collins Seitz, first state judge to order desegregation of a school. He also talks about Charles Hamilton Houston, William Hastie, Thurgood Marshall, and Howard University Law School. Part four. Judge Higginbotham recalls the Marian Anderson incident in Philadelphia in 1939. He also discusses the extension of legal strategy in civil rights cases beyond education into employment and voting rights, as in Smith v. Allwright. Higginbotham details the extensive pattern of violence in the South and the manipulation of the voter registration process. For example, registrars would ask African Americans for absurd qualification information, such as the number of gallons of water in the ocean. Judge Higginbotham recalls cases about labor unions, railways, housing rights, restrictive covenants in the 1940s, and fair housing in 1968. Part five. Judge Higginbotham's advice to young people: don't try to save the entire world, try to save the people next to you. Higginbotham discusses Powell v. Alabama, the Scottsboro case, Brown v. Mississippi, and John W. Davis.
Creator
Elwood, William A
Kulish, Mykola
Interviewee
Higginbotham, A. Leon 1928-1998
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 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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 five.

Part two of five.

Part three of five.

Part four of five.

Part five of five.