The decisive victories in the fight for racial equality in America were not easily won, much less inevitable; they were achieved through carefully conceived strategy and the work of tireless individuals dedicated to this most urgent struggle. In We Face the Dawn, Margaret Edds tells the gripping story of how the South’s most significant grassroots legal team challenged the barriers of racial segregation in mid-century America.
Virginians Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson initiated and argued one of the five cases that combined into the landmark Brown v. Board of Education, but their influence extends far beyond that momentous ruling. They were part of a small brotherhood, headed by social-justice pioneer Thurgood Marshall and united largely through the Howard Law School, who conceived and executed the NAACP’s assault on racial segregation in education, transportation, housing, and voting. Hill and Robinson’s work served as a model for southern states and an essential underpinning for Brown. When the Virginia General Assembly retaliated with laws designed to disbar the two lawyers and discredit the NAACP, they defiantly carried the fight to the United States Supreme Court and won.
At a time when numerous schools have resegregated and the prospects of many minority children appear bleak, Hill and Robinson’s remarkably effective campaign against various forms of racial segregation can inspire a new generation to embrace educational opportunity as the birthright of every American child.