Carl Maxey: A Fighting Life

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University of Washington Press, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 264 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.

InCarl 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.

"An essential biography of one city's civil rights hero, wonderfully written and impeccably researched. . . . Carl Maxey was a man whose complicated life transcended its own gripping details to mirror a turbulent time in our recent history, a time when it seemed as if race and justice would forever run on separate tracks." - Jess Walter, author ofThe Zero

"Jim Kershner's biography of activist Carl Maxey is not only inspirational and informative, but because it is so well written it is also a pleasure to read." - Carlos Schwantes, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Jim Kershner is a journalist forThe Spokesman-Reviewin Spokane and staff historian at HistoryLink.org. For more information see http://www.jimkershner.net

 

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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

Contents

AN ORPHANS FIRE
3
A FATHER IN BLACK ROBES
18
THE COUNT AND THE CLUB
31
WALKING RIGHT INTO TROUBLE
41
KING CARL WINS THE CROWN
58
EASTERN WASHINGTONS FIRST BLACK LAWYER
77
STIRRINGS FROM THE SOUTH
101
THE HAIRCUT UPROAR AND A PERFUNCTORY EXECUTION
108
A RIGHT HOOK TO SCOOP JACKSON
151
THE SEATTLE SEVEN CIRCUS
162
THE MAXEY TEMPER
181
RUTH COES GREEK TRAGEDY
209
NO GODDAMNED AWARD
223
LIVING THROUGH ALL THIS BS
237
TYPEA GANDHI
242
NOTES ON SOURCES
249

FREEDOM SUMMER IN THE TAIL END OF AMERICA
120
THE SICKNESS OF OUR NATION
130

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About the author (2008)

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

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