“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.”
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.
The life of African-American civil rights lawyer Roundtree (1914 2018) is chronicled in this inspirational, history-rich memoir, a project coauthored by National Magazine Award winning writer McCabe. Roundtree grew up in Charlotte, N.C., during the Jim Crow era: "Never for one moment of my life under Jim Crow did I grow accustomed to being excluded, banned, pushed aside, reduced," she writes. She recounts her time at Spelman College in the 1930s, when Atlanta was a "racial hell," and tells of joining the newly established Women's Army Auxiliary Corps during WWII, when she fought for the rights of black soldiers and attained the rank of captain. She later pursued a law degree at Howard University, where she was one of five women in her class; was sworn into the Washington, D.C., bar in 1951; and started a law firm. In straightforward, somewhat dutiful 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.