Literary Review

Rave Reviews for “Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights”

Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights

Roundtree.jpg

Dovey Johnson Roundtree

by Dovey Johnson Roundtree,
Katie McCabe

Forward by Tayari Jones

ISBN: 9781616209551
ISBN-10: 1616209550
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: November 5th, 2019
Pages: 304

“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.”
—Michelle Obama

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. At a time when African American attorneys had to leave the courthouses to use the bathroom, 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.

Praise For…

“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.”
—Michelle Obama

“Part moving memoir, part inspiration to resist, Mighty Justice is a must-read.”
—Ms. Magazine

“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 Associated Press

“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.”
—Shelf Awareness

“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.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“[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.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Powerful . . . Mighty Justice is an inspiring and intense memoir by an extraordinary woman and mentor who deserves a high profile in American history.”
—Foreword Reviews

“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, author of Without Parole: America New Death Penalty

“Dovey Roundtree’s nobility, the courage and effectiveness of her work, are enough to restore one’s hope for the human race. The book, though it describes an era that is past, is above all a study of something that doesn’t change much—human character and its possibilities.”
—Lance Morrow, Time magazine essayist and author of Evil

“You will learn so very much about determination, values, courage, manners, and the moral strength of this family. The experience will enhance your appreciation for the struggles and achievements against the odds, and the meanness of stereotypes. And you will see and learn American history and human history at its best.”
—Dr. Walter J. Leonard, former president of Fisk University and founding committee chair of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University

“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.

About the Author

Dovey Johnson Roundtree was an attorney and minister who was one of the first women to be commissioned as an Army officer and who helped win a landmark case banning segregation in interstate bus travel. She passed away in 2018 at the age of 104.
Co-author Katie McCabe is a freelance writer whose National Magazine Award–winning article on African American medical legend Vivien Thomas was the basis for the HBO film Something the Lord Made, winner of three Emmys and a Peabody Award. McCabe lives in Washington, D.C. Mighty Justice is the product of her ten-year collaboration with Dovey Johnson Roundtree.
Tayari Jones is the author of four novels, including Silver Sparrow, The Untelling, and Leaving Atlanta. Jones holds degrees from Spelman College, Arizona State University, and the University of Iowa. A winner of numerous literary awards, she is a professor of creative writing at Emory University. Visit her website at http://www.tayarijones.com.

Dovey Johnson Roundtree –Biography

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.[1] That case, Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company (64 MCC 769 (1955)), which Dovey Roundtree argued with her law partner and mentor Julius Winfield Robertson, was invoked by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy during the 1961 Freedom Riders’ campaign in his successful battle to compel the Interstate Commerce Commission to enforce its rulings and end Jim Crow laws in public transportation.[2]
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)[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] In one of Washington’s most sensational and widely covered murder cases, United States v. Ray Crump, tried in the summer of 1965 on the eve of the Watts riots, Roundtree won acquittal for the black laborer accused of the murder of Georgetown socialite (and former wife of a CIA officer) Mary Pinchot Meyer,[6] a woman with romantic ties to President John F. Kennedy.[7]

The founding partner of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Roundtree, Knox, Hunter and Parker in 1970 following the death of her first law partner Julius Robertson in 1961, Roundtree was special consultant for legal affairs to the AME Church, and General Counsel to the National Council of Negro Women.[8] She was the inspiration for actress Cicely Tyson’s depiction of a maverick civil rights lawyer in the television series “Sweet Justice”,[9] and the recipient, along with retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, of the American Bar Association’s 2000 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.[10] In 2011 a scholarship fund was created in her name by the Charlotte Chapter of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College. Roundtree also received the 2011 Torchbearer Award from the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia, the organization which she integrated in 1962. Following her death in 2018, the Women’s Bar of DC created The Dovey Roundtree Rule to guide Washington law firms in increasing the hiring of minority women for leadership positions. In March 2013 an affordable senior living facility in the Southeast Washington DC community where she ministered was named “The Roundtree Residences” in her honor.[11] She turned 100 in April 2014[12] and died at the age of 104 in May 2018

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