Carl Maxey: A Fighting Life

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University of Washington Press, Dec 1, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages
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Carl Maxey was, in his own words, a guy who started from scratch - black scratch. He was sent, at age five, to the scandal-ridden Spokane Children's Home and then kicked out at age eleven with the only other colored orphan. Yet Maxey managed to make a national name for himself, first as an NCAA championship boxer at Gonzaga University, and then as eastern Washington's first prominent black lawyer and a renowned civil rights attorney who always fought for the underdog.

During the tumultuous civil rights and Vietnam War eras, Carl Maxey fought to break down color barriers in his hometown of Spokane and throughout the nation. As a defense lawyer, he made national headlines working on lurid murder cases and war-protest trials, including the notorious Seattle Seven trial. He even took his commitment to justice and antiwar causes to the political arena, running for the U.S. Senate against powerhouse senator Henry M. Jackson.

In Carl Maxey: A Fighting Life, Jim Kershner explores the sources of Maxey's passions as well as the price he ultimately paid for his struggles. The result is a moving portrait of a man called a Type-A Gandhi by the New York Times, whose own personal misfortune spurred his lifelong, tireless crusade against injustice.


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User Review  - corrmorr - LibraryThing

Kershner knew his subject personally, left no stone unturned in his research, and brought to life a Spokane icon. For Spokanites, it is a page turner. Carl Maxey lived a life that would have flattened a person of normal strength. He was fascinating, complex and well worth the read. Read full review


1 An Orphans Fire
2 A Father in Black Robes
3 The Count and the Club
4 Walking Right into Trouble
5 King Carl Wins the Crown
6 Eastern Washingtons First Black Lawyer
7 Stirrings from the South
8 The Haircut Uproar and a Perfunctory Execution
11 A Right Hook to Scoop Jackson
12 The Seattle Seven Circus
13 The Maxey Temper
14 Ruth Coes Greek Tragedy
15 No Goddamned Award
16 Living through All This BS
17 TypeA Gandhi
Notes on Sources

9 Freedom Summer in the Tail End of America
10 The Sickness of Our Nation

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About the author (2011)

Jim Kershner is a journalist for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane.

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