Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshalls African Journey

Hardcover | July 15, 2008

byMary L Dudziak

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Thurgood Marshall became a living icon of civil rights when he argued Brown v. Board of Education before the Supreme Court in 1954. Six years later, he was at a crossroads. A rising generation of activists were making sit-ins and demonstrations rather than lawsuits and legal maneuvering thehallmarks of the civil rights movement. What role, he wondered, could he now play? When in 1960 Kenyan independence leaders asked him to help write their constitution, Marshall seized the occasion and threw himself into their cause. Here was a new arena in which law might serve as the tool withwhich to forge a just society, an opportunity to prove that legal means offered the brightest hope for progress. In Exporting American Dreams, Mary Dudziak recounts with poignancy and power the untold story of Marshall's journey to Africa. His experience in Kenya was emotional as well as intellectual, and during it he developed ties of friendship with, among others, Tom Mboya and Jomo Kenyatta. Marshallserved as advisor to the Kenyans, who needed to demonstrate to both Great Britain and to the world that they would treat minority races (whites and Asians) fairly once Africans took power. He crafted a bill of rights, aiding constitutional negotiations that enabled peaceful regime change, ratherthan violent resistance. Marshall's involvement with Kenya's foundation affirmed his belief in progress by legal means, while also forcing him to understand how the struggle for justice could be compromised by the imperatives of sovereignty. Marshall's beliefs were most sorely tested later in the decade when he became aSupreme Court Justice, even as American cities erupted in flames and civil rights progress stalled. But his journey to Africa remained a source of inspiration on which he continued to draw.

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Thurgood Marshall became a living icon of civil rights when he argued Brown v. Board of Education before the Supreme Court in 1954. Six years later, he was at a crossroads. A rising generation of activists were making sit-ins and demonstrations rather than lawsuits and legal maneuvering thehallmarks of the civil rights movement. What ...

Mary Dudziak is Professor of Law and History at the University of Southern California Law School. Her books include Cold War Civil Rights and September 11 in History. She is currently a Guggenheim Fellow and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.3 × 6.3 × 1.1 inPublished:July 15, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195329015

ISBN - 13:9780195329018

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"Effectively sketches those events in the civil rights movement... Dudziak's clarity and careful documentation make her book accessible to the general reader and a valuable tool for African and African-American studies."--Publishers Weekly "Dudziak brings out with impressive clarity how Thurgood Marshall's greatness stemmed from his Whitman-esque ability to contain multitudes: committed to the rule of law, he could chide Kenya's new leadership for departing even slightly from it, work for justice in segregated America, and sustain a relationship with young civil rights activists taking direct and 'illegal' action in the early 1960s."--Mark Tushnet, Harvard Law School and author of Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1956-1961 "This book on a less-studied part of Marshall's career is recommended for libraries collecting in law, legal processes, and African and African American history."--Library Journal "In this gem of a book, Mary Dudziak brings vividly to life the important but little known history of Thurgood Marshall's intense involvement with Kenya during its journey toward independence in the 1960s. This great champion of the American civil rights struggle never relinquished his hope that democracy and equality would one day flourish in Kenya, even as he became painfully aware of the obstacles that stood in the path of this dream. A powerful and poignant story, beautifully told."--Gary Gerstle, Vanderbilt University and author of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century "By dint of creative and exhaustive research, Mary Dudziak has written an excellent book about a facet of Thurgood Marshall's career that hasnever before received substantial attention. Who knew that 'Mr. Civil Rights' contributed significantly to African as well as American legal systems. All students of this great man's life owe a major debt to Professor Dudziak's labors."--Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School and author of Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal