• Mar 28, 2012

Justice Older than the Law: The Life of Dovey Johnson Roundtree

  • 4:00 PM
  • Austin Hall, Ames Courtroom, Harvard Law School, 1515 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

A discussion with author Katie McCabe and Walter Leonard. A book signing will follow.

In a stunning memoir written with National Magazine Award-winner Katie McCabe, pioneering civil rights lawyer, Army veteran and ordained minister Dovey J. Roundtree tells her remarkable story. To follow her journey from the poverty of Jim Crow North Carolina to the courtrooms of Washington, DC is to watch the entire history of the civil rights movement roll past. As a protege of activist Mary McLeod Bethune, Roundtree became one of the first women to break the gender and color barriers in the World War II military. In November, 1955, one month before Rosa Parks ignited the protest movement led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Roundtree wrested from the Interstate Commerce Commission a desegregation ruling that demolished the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ in interstate bus travel and enabled Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to combat Southern resistance to the 1961 Freedom Riders’ campaign.

At a time when black attorneys in the Nation’s Capital had to leave the courthouses to use the bathroom, Dovey J. Roundtree took on Washington’s white legal establishment in behalf of black clients, and she prevailed. Even as she opened doors for black attorneys, both male and female, at the DC bar, Roundtree broke new ground in 1961 as one of the first women to be ordained to the ministry of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. From the pulpit of Allen Chapel AME Church, located in one of Washington’s most violent neighborhoods, she launched the final battle of her life, the one she continues to fight today. “Justice Older than the Law,” a richly-voiced first-person account that reads like a novel, captures the sweep of nine tumultuous decades of our country’s history, and a vision of justice that goes far beyond the law.