The Conscience of a Lawyer: Clifford J. Durr and American Civil Liberties, 1899-1975

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Clifford Durr's uncompromising commitment to civil liberties and civic decency caused him often to take unpopular positions. Durr was born into a comfortable, upper-middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama in 1899. He practiced law briefly in Montgomery, Milwaukee, and Birmingham, when at the urging of Hugo Black, his brother-in-law, he moved to Washington to work as a lawyer for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a creation of Roosevelt's new Democratic administration, and later to help found the Federal Communication Commission.

While on the FCC he opposed bitterly J. Edgar Hoover's attempts to influence the granting of radio licenses for political reasons. As a lawyer in Washington, he found himself appearing on behalf of public servants and educators accused by the House Un-American Activities Committee of Communist leanings during the late 1940s and early 1950s. With his wife, Virginia, who shared his conviction that blacks should enjoy exactly the same rights as other American citizens, he assisted in the defense of Rosa Parks. The Durrs' life in Montgomery during the years of the civil rights revolution was often difficult, as the white South mounted its last defense of segregation.

 

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This book ought to be required reading in the legal ethics course of every American law school.
John Salmond beautifully traces the life and times of a lawyer who exemplified courage and integrity
at a time when the nation was in the thrall of fear and ignorance.
There is some evidence that Cliff Durr, more than any other individual, was the model for Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird," the classic novel written by Cliff Durr's fellow Alabamian, Nelle Harper Lee.
 

Contents

A SOUTHERN BOY
1
LEARNING THE LAwAND OTHER THINGS
33
NEW DEALER
47
WAVELENGTH WARRIOR
72
THE LOYALTY ISSUE
98
CIVIL LIBERTIES LAwYER
123
COLORADo INTERLUDE
144
MONTGOMERY AND NEW ORLEANS
154
THE CIVIL RIGHTS REVOLUTION
170
RETIREMENT AND REFLECTION
196
CONCLUSION
213
NOTES
220
BIBLIOGRAPHY
251
1
256
INDEx
260
Copyright

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About the author (1990)

Normal0falsefalsefalseMicrosoftInternetExplorer4John A. Salmond is Professor of History at La Trobe University, Australia.

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