2018-03-23 / On Second Thought

New book commemorates S.C.’s African American lawyers and their legal education

Contributed by Lois Carlisle

Cover of Lewis Burke’s book 
Image courtesy of Cecil Williams. Cover of Lewis Burke’s book Image courtesy of Cecil Williams. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the University of South Carolina’s School of Law, Historic Columbia invites you to join W. Lewis Burke, distinguished professor emeritus and author, for a special lecture about his recently published book, All for Civil Rights: Black Lawyers in South Carolina, 1868- 1968. The lecture will be given March 28 at 5 p.m. and will be followed by a reception and book signing.

“I was able to identify 167 African-American men and three women who became lawyers from 1868 to 1968. The very fact they became lawyers was a bold statement,” says Burke. “Imagine in 1868, just a short time after the 13th Amendment became effective, black men were seeking admission to the bar of the state that had been the first to secede.”

The first book-length study of black lawyers in South Carolina, All for Civil Rights details the enduring struggles and unprecedented achievements of these men and women in their quest for equality in the Jim Crow South.

The culmination of ten years of research, All for Civil Rights is a rich and detailed study not only of individual achievements, but also individual life stories. Burke’s masterful storytelling examines court processes and trials which give way to a rich history of the long struggle to realize the promise of freedom, equal justice, and civil rights in the Deep South.

“I believe it’s a story that needs to be told. The sad story of slavery, repression, Jim Crow, and segregation remains with us today,” says Burke. “The story of these lawyers’ battle to tear down Jim Crow should never be forgotten.”

Before or after the lecture, guests are invited to see an exhibit on Richard Greener, the first African American professor at USC, serving during the Reconstruction Era from 1873 through 1877. The exhibit features Greener’s USC law diploma, South Carolina law license, and variety of other artifacts. The exhibit will be open in the Legal History Room on the 2nd floor of the law library.

A reception and book signing will follow the lecture.

This event is free to the public, but advanced registration is highly encouraged as space is limited.

This event is cosponsored by Historic Columbia, USC History Center, USC School of Law, and the Center for Civil Rights History and Research.

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