Shades of Freedom

Shades of Freedom : Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process

4.24 (25 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 4 business days
When will my order arrive?

Description

In "Shades of Freedom," Higginbotham provides a magisterial account of the interaction between law and racial oppression in America from colonial times to the present, demonstrating how the one agent that was entrusted to guarantee equal justice under the law - the judicial system - instead, more often played a dominant role in enforcing the inferior position of blacks, and, on some occasions, eradicated racial injustice. The precept of racial inferiority is central to this volume, as Higginbotham documents how early white perceptions of black inferiority slowly became codified into law. Perhaps the most powerful and insightful aspects center on a pair of famous Supreme Court cases, which Higgingbotham uses to portray race relations at two vital moments in our history. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 declared that under the United States Constitution, blacks were "so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." Higginbotham reveals the tragedy that, after the Civil War, and even during the Reconstruction period, the courts construed the new Constitutional amendments with such hostility that the dream of freedom was buried by judges with black robes, politicians posing as statesmen, and vigilantes in white hooded robes. In the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which Higginbotham terms "one of the most catastrophic racial decisions ever rendered, " the Supreme Court legitimized racial segregation under the deceptive rationale of "separate but equal, " which, in practice, became always separate and never equal. Higginbotham also documents the eloquent voices that opposed the openly racist workings of the system, from Reconstruction Congressman John R.Lynch to Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan to African-American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois and Charles Hamilton Houston, William Hastie, and a few other lawyers - both black and white, Jew and Gentile - who confronted the legitimization of racism.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 33.02mm | 725.74g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 16 pp plates
  • 0195038223
  • 9780195038224

Back cover copy

In Shades of Freedom, Higginbotham provides a magisterial account of the interaction between law and racial oppression in America from colonial times to the present, demonstrating how the one agent that was entrusted to guarantee equal justice under the law - the judicial system - instead, more often played a dominant role in enforcing the inferior position of blacks, and, on some occasions, eradicated racial injustice. The precept of racial inferiority is central to this volume, as Higginbotham documents how early white perceptions of black inferiority slowly became codified into law. Perhaps the most powerful and insightful aspects center on a pair of famous Supreme Court cases, which Higgingbotham uses to portray race relations at two vital moments in our history. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 declared that under the United States Constitution, blacks were "so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect". Higginbotham reveals the tragedy that, after the Civil War, and even during the Reconstruction period, the courts construed the new Constitutional amendments with such hostility that the dream of freedom was buried by judges with black robes, politicians posing as statesmen, and vigilantes in white hooded robes. In the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which Higginbotham terms "one of the most catastrophic racial decisions ever rendered", the Supreme Court legitimized racial segregation under the deceptive rationale of "separate but equal", which, in practice, became always separate and never equal. Higginbotham also documents the eloquent voices that opposed the openly racist workings of the system, from Reconstruction Congressman John R. Lynch to Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan to African-American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois and Charles Hamilton Houston, William Hastie, and a few other lawyers - both black and white, Jew and Gentile - who confronted the legitimization of racism. To establish the nexus to decades of racism in the past, he asserts that, even today, racial bias still permeates the American consciousness. He shows how six recent events reveal that many public perceptions of black inferiority persist to this day.show more

Review quote

"Eighteen years is a long time to hold one's breath, but it has been worth the pain and effort. Shades of Freedom is in its own way as remarkable a book as Leon Higginbotham's magnificent In The Matter of Color. It reflects the same mastery of historical research, passion for equality and the rule of law, and judicial temperament. With the publication of this volume, Judge Higginbotham confirms my judgement that he is our leading judicial scholar, and my hope that, with his leadership, this nation will resume its progress toward equal protection of the law for all."-Stanley N. Katz, President, American Council for Learned Societies, and Professor, The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University "In Shades of Freedom one of our greatest legal minds makes a powerful case for turning the use of law to the service of justice. Judge Higginbotham carefully explains the role of law in reinforcing the concept of African American inferiority since the colonial period."-Mary Frances Berry, University of Pennsylvania, and Chairperson, United States Commission on Civil Rights "In my lifetime, two giants of the bench did not make the Supreme Court: Learned Hand and Leon Higginbotham. Now one has written a book that you would expect from him: eloquent, scholarly, compassionate, and a ringing call for justice."-Senator Paul Simon "Once again, this great freedom fighter, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., has masterfully presented a remarkable and refreshingly honest assessment of the role of race in American society and law. With great clarity and perception, Higginbotham exposes underlying cultural assumptions of inferiority and the impact such assumptions have on our collective progress. Shades of Freedom is aptly entitled because in describing the vast spectrum of freedoms enjoyed by African Americans today, it serves as a poignant reminder that there are many miles yet to travel on the road to freedom and equality."-Honorable Damon J. Keith, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit "Higginbotham's masterful work is a compelling and convincing examination of how the law developed the official American doctrine of racial inferiority."-Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton "Judge Higginbotham is once again the smithy, wielding, as a mighty hammer, his powerful intellect, scholarship, historical, and logic, in the forge of justice, seeking to reshape on the anvil of the Constitution, minds badly twisted by racism. In this classic work, Shades of Freedom, Higginbotham takes his readers through historical and social time zones with their sunlight and shadows, showing forward movement and retreat. Given the confused state of race relations today this remarkable book could not be more timely."-Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit "Shades of Freedom magnificently reflects on the systematic denial and betrayal of our past and present rights to full liberty and justice, while providing a sobering and disturbing prognosis of our future progress in achieving our full Constitutional guarantees. It superimposes a historical mosaic of denial and unkept promises. The Judge brilliantly chronicles the insidious patterns of racism that have always short-circuited our quest for unconditional freedom, as embraced by America's most enduring concept 'We the People.' In Shades of Freedom, as in In the Matter of Color, Judge Higginbotham passionately sounds the trumpet for a Rainbow of Freedom for 'We the People.'"-Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, President/Founder, The Bethune-DuBois Fund "Shades of Freedom is a worthy successor to In the Matter of Color. With eloquence and authority, Judge Higginbotham chronicles and analyzes the long, sordid history of the use of law in establishing and maintaining a system in which 'Equal Justice Under Law' is a mockery of the actual practice. Anyone interested in race in America should read this important book."-John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor of History Emeritus, Duke University "In his powerful treatise, Judge Higginbotham has exposed both the pathology and the potential of the law in either eliminating or perpetuating racial injustice. He has written with the eloquence of a Martin Luther King, the scholarship of a W.E.B. DuBois, and the superb legal craftsmanship and wisdom of Chief Justice Warren and Thurgood Marshall. For all individuals who believe that history is relevant, Shades of Freedom must be read and reflected on. A must-read book for every generation of Americans."-Kweisi Mfume, President & CEO, NAACP "Judge Higginbotham's book is customarily well researched, extensively documented, persuasively written, and offers compelling insights on the painfully slow process of racial progress in America. While W.E.B. DuBois reminded us that the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line, Judge Higginbotham has documented DuBois's prophecy in Shades of Freedom, the seminal work on race in the legal system for the twenty-first century."-Charles J. Ogletree, Professor of Law, Harvard Law Schoolshow more

About A. Leon Higginbotham

A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. is Public Service Professor of Jurisprudence at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He was formerly Chief Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He has taught at Yale and at the Harvard, New York University, and University of Pennsylvania Law Schools, and is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His landmark volume In the Matter of Color won the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award and the National Bar Association's Literary Award.show more

Rating details

25 ratings
4.24 out of 5 stars
5 44% (11)
4 36% (9)
3 20% (5)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X