February is Black History Month. If you are looking for a relevant read, check out the critical and inspiring MIGHTY JUSTICE: My Life in Civil Rights by Dovey Johnson Roundtree.
In 1962, despite a storm of protests from its members, Roundtree became the first African American person admitted to the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia. At a time when African American attorneys had to leave the courthouses to use the bathroom, she took on Washington’s white legal establishment and prevailed, winning a 1955 landmark bus desegregation case that would help to dismantle the practice of “separate but equal” and shatter Jim Crow laws. Her story of determination and commitment to justice remains incredibly relevant today, and it’s time her contribution to the Civil Rights Movement in America is acknowledged.
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Published: November 2019
In Mighty Justice, trailblazing African American civil rights attorney Dovey Johnson Roundtree recounts her inspiring life story that speaks movingly and urgently to our racially troubled times. From the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, to the segregated courtrooms of the nation’s capital; from the male stronghold of the army where she broke gender and color barriers to the pulpits of churches where women had waited for years for the right to minister—in all these places, Roundtree sought justice. Roundtree took on Washington’s white legal establishment and prevailed, winning a 1955 landmark bus desegregation case that would help to dismantle the practice of “separate but equal” and shatter Jim Crow laws. Later, she led the vanguard of women ordained to the ministry in the AME Church in 1961, merging her law practice with her ministry to fight for families and children being destroyed by urban violence.
Dovey Roundtree passed away in 2018 at the age of 104. Though her achievements were significant and influential, she remains largely unknown to the American public. Mighty Justice corrects the historical record.Black History Month Book Spotlight – Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights by Dovey Johnson Roundtree #BlackHistoryMonth #CivilRights @algonquinbooks #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
“Dovey Johnson Roundtree set a new path for women and proved that the vision and perseverance of a single individual can turn the tides of history.”
“Some life stories are too important to be relegated to dusty history books. They must be remembered, honored, shared. Dovey Johnson Roundtree lived that large and remarkable a life.”
“The picaresque arc of [Dovey Johnson Roundtree’s] life pulses through this exquisite and essential memoir.”
—O, the Oprah Magazine
“Part moving memoir, part inspiration to resist, Mighty Justice is a must-read.”
“Trailblazing attorney Dovey Johnson Roundtree died last year at 104, but her legacy shines bright in her memoir. Penned with Katie McCabe and featuring a foreword from An American Marriage author Tayari Jones, it not only covers Johnson’s triumphant journey, but it also enriches our collective memory.”
“In this apparent golden age of memoir, some stories shine brighter than others. Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights is one lucent example of the brighter variety… This memoir by pathbreaking black attorney Dovey Johnson Roundtree deserves a spot alongside works by and about Pauli Murray and Barbara Jordan.”
“Readers will find [Roundtree’s] dogged certainty in the inevitable triumph of justice in times of social upheaval both timely and inspiring. This superb work should ensure that Roundtree receives the recognition she richly deserves.”
—Library Journal (Starred Review)
“Thoughtful and highly inspiring, this book, co-authored by McCabe, is not only a moving memoir; it is also an important contribution to the history of civil rights in America…An eloquently told story that should make an impact.”
“[An] inspirational, history-rich memoir… In straightforward…prose, she covers her many transformative moments, including being in the courtroom as a spectator when Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned in 1954, and winning a critical travel-discrimination case in 1955 that helped end the segregation of bus passengers in America.…This eye-opening, accessible book documents the life of a trailblazing human rights advocate.”
“Recognition of our female civil rights leaders is long overdue. Dovey Johnson Roundtree is foremost among those women who helped power this mighty movement, transforming our country through their strength, love, hope, optimism and resilience—and their belief that our nation could one day realize the promise expressed in its founding. In this remarkable memoir, she tells the story of her days growing up in Jim Crow America; her first-hand encounters with relentless cruelty and injustice; her discovery that education could help overcome them; and her harnessing of the law to combat and defeat these forces. From her military service during World War 2 to her peerless career as a lawyer and preacher, Roundtree never gave up on America. Her story is at the same time infuriating, heartbreaking, moving, joyous, and powerful. Read it and you will feel inspired.”
—Liza Mundy, New York Times bestselling author of Code Girls
“Dovey Roundtree is my hero. This is not only a great read, but a must read. I recommend it to anyone thinking about justice or trying to find ways to overcome challenges they face.”
—Charles J. Ogletree, Professor and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School
“An amazing story that humanizes the raw emotions of thousands of early twentieth-century achievers . . . living the dreams of the entire African American community.”
—Citation of the Judges, Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize from the Association of Black Women Historians
“American history and human history at its best.”
—Walter J. Leonard, Founding Committee Chair of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University
“Manages to immerse readers in Roundtree’s life, creating a real sense of what it was like to live as a black person in segregated Charlotte and the Jim Crow South.”
—Pam Kelley, The Charlotte Observer
“Dovey Johnson Roundtree’s powerful memoir Mighty Justice covers her devotion to legal, racial, and gender equality… Humble, reflective, and triumphant, the text details a life of determination, sacrifice, hope, and unending love of knowledge. Mighty Justice is an inspiring and intense memoir by an extraordinary woman and mentor who deserves a high profile in American history.”
“To read how Dovey Roundtree struggled to help others and to make a difference in our world is exalting. This book tells what one determined, unstoppable woman did with her life to change laws and traditions to make America a better, fairer, and more respectful country.”
—Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, USAF (Ret.), President, Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation
“Beautifully and engagingly told.”
—Johnnetta Betsch Cole, President Emerita, Spelman College and Bennett College
About Dovey Johnson Roundtree:
Dovey Johnson Roundtree (April 17, 1914 – May 21, 2018) was an African-American civil rights activist, ordained minister, and attorney. Her 1955 victory before the Interstate Commerce Commission in the first bus desegregation case to be brought before the ICC resulted in the only explicit repudiation of the “separate but equal” doctrine in the field of interstate bus transportation by a court or federal administrative body.
A protégé of black activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, Roundtree was selected by Bethune for the first class of African-American women to be trained as officers in the newly created Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later the Women’s Army Corps) during World War II. In 1961 she became one of the first women to receive full ministerial status in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which had just begun ordaining women at a level beyond mere preachers in 1960. With her controversial admission to the all-white Women’s Bar of the District of Columbia in 1962, she broke the color bar for minority women in the Washington legal community. She passed away in 2018 at the age of 104.
MIGHTY JUSTICE: My Life in Civil Rights by Dovey Johnson Roundtree is available for purchase at Amazon.
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