Michael Meltsner
The Making of a Civil Rights Lawyer


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News & Recent Activity

"We Come For Many Reasons But Stay For One" in Cambridge Voices: A Literary Celebration of Libraries and Reading (A publication of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, 2009)."In Our Name", A play about America's torture years (2010).

Videoconference with a group of activists and American Studies students in Amman, Jordan on "The Uses of The Legal System to Effect Social Change." organized by the United States Embassy and the Department of State's Office of Democracy and International Security (2010).

A short course on Recent Developments in American Constitutional Law presented to the students at Albert-Ludwigs-Universitšt, Freiburg, Germany (2010).

" Public Interest Lawyers During South Africa's Apartheid Years" a talk to students and faculty at Seton Hall University's Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations (2010).

A panel honor of the City's new library building and of Cambridge Voices, a book about writers' library experiences. Appearance with local writers Mary Catherine Bateson and Mark Feeney (2010).

Interviews with WGBH TV's Greater Boston, the Wall Street Journal and the Canadian Medical Association Journal on the Open Notes Project, an experiment in making physicians' notes freely available to their patients (2010).

Now In Paperback

"It was not until I arrived at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund that I learned my profession, how to work with colleagues and clients, and how it might feel to grow up in the law." So begins Michael Meltsner's vivid account of how as a lawyer for Muhammad Ali, for the doctors who ended Jim Crow at American hospitals, and for scores of death row inmates he became such a deeply involved activist in the civil rights movement. Part memoir and part critical study, The Making of a Civil Rights Lawyer offers both a personalized history of the civil rights movement from a participant's perspective, and the compelling account of how a lawyer committed to social change discovered himself in his work.

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Focused on the inside story of law reform, the book contains portraits of some larger-than-life figures, including Thurgood Marshall, William Kuntsler, and the charismatic black law professor Derrick Bell, as well as of unheralded movers and shakers such as the attorney C. B. King of Albany, Georgia, and Margaret Burnham, who as a young lawyer representing Angela Davis got caught in a racial and generational crossfire. Alongside these recollections, Meltsner provides a critical analysis of early civil rights efforts to achieve social change through litigation while also providing the wider context of the personalities, policies, and tactics that continue to shape reform efforts today.

Deeply researched and using case files that have previously been off-limits to historians, The Making of a Civil Rights Lawyer will appeal to young and upcoming lawyers, to students of the history of the 1960s, of civil rights, and of African American studies, and to anyone interested in social change.

Appearances 2007

October 2, 2007 (Noon) University of Richmond School of Law, Westhampton Way, Richmond, Va.

March 21, at 7:30 pm, Newton, Ma. Public Library, 330 Homer Street, Newton Centre. Book Talk and Signing.

Appearances (2006)

June 26: National Press Club, Washington DC. Keynote speaker at the Death Penalty Information Center's †10th annual Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards luncheon.

June 30 Reading: 7 pm, Porter Square Books, Porter Square Shopping Center, Cambridge, MA.

July 1 Reading: 1 pm, Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

July 2: Interview, KPFA/Pacifica Radio's Sunday Salon, hosted by Larry Bensky, 9AM Pacific Time

Sunday, July 23, 10 pm: The Jordan Rich show, WBZ Boston.

September 18: Mass. Liberal Arts College, N. Adams, Ma

September 20: At noon, Center for Civil Rights, University of North Carolina School of Law, Chapel Hill, NC

September 21: At noon, Duke Law School, Durham, NC (Webcast at http://www.law.duke.edu/webcast)

September 21 Reading: 7 pm at Regulator Bookshop, 720 Ninth Street, Durham NC

October 3: Reading for the Massachusetts Appleseed Center, Boston

October 5: Reading for Northeastern University School of Law Alumni, Boston

October 10: Northeastern University School of Law Dinner, Northhampton

October 12: Reading sponsored by the American Constitution Society, Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington

October 17-18, Reading- Lecture, Vanderbilt University Law School, Nashville

November 8: Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, Ma: reception and book lecture, 4.30-6.30 PM.

November 13-14, Reading-Lecture Vermont Law School, South Royalton


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copyright © 2006-2010 Michael Meltsner