ABA Journal


ABA Journal Podcast

Why Leading Civil Rights Lawyer Advised Susan Rice Against Law School (Podcast with Transcript)

Jan 7, 2013, 02:29 pm CST


Civil Rights doesn't erase bigotry but it helps mitigate the damage done by bigotry. At least most people in the 21st Century are willing to talk about these issues rather than engage in violence over these issues like in the mid-20th Century.

By faddking on 2013 01 07, 7:12 pm CST

I wonder if David Coar's comment on entrepreneurs was transcribed accurately. I think it is more true that DEsegregation killed black entrepreneurs.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 08, 4:28 am CST

If all these Americans who happen to be black actually thought honestly about history for just a few seconds, they would realize that the prejudice and lack of economic freedom that had been shown their forebears was rooted in our own government's policies. Jim Crow did not arise from the people themselves - it was a deliberately and carefully planned system set out at the time by our political elite in Washington. Since then, Jim Crow has been abandoned by our government, and the more insidious affirmative action policy has taken its place.

If these Americans would only honestly acknowledge that the prejudicial effect of Jim Crow has been since replaced with the prejudicial effect of affirmative action, they would find a clear path to their own loudly desired salvation of wishing to be simply American like the rest of us. However, to do this they would need to abandon the political advantages available to them as an allegedly aggrieved party. It is hard for socially lionized people to discuss inconvenient facts that would undermine their incomes, socially esteemed positions, and fawning attention from institutions like the ABA.

No employer holds a bias against a good worker; there are so few good workers around that demographics are of no consequence. It is when certain demographic groups such as blacks become corrupted by political and legal favoritism that a justifiable prejudice among the rest of us arises. No self-serving whining or moaning by people who prefer to be black than American can effectively remedy that, until they look in the mirror and decide it is finally time for them to start acting like Americans and turn their backs on the corruption encouraged by our government and despised by the rest of us.

By sunforester on 2013 01 08, 7:45 pm CST

While race based affirmative action is flawed, it is not compareable to Jim Crow. No one is lynching young white men for looking at black women, or rounding them up and sentencing them to hard labor simply for being in employed.

By Schills on 2013 01 11, 4:06 pm CST

@3: The "our government" you refer to as the perpetrator of these misguided policies did not fall from the sky. The policies of "our own government" reflect the will of the electorate. Isn't that how a democracy functions, or am I reading too much into this? If an elected government no longer represents the will of the people, the government can always be changed through elections.

By ReaganNYC on 2013 01 11, 4:07 pm CST

@3 You are wrong about Jim Crow laws. They were never adopted by "our government" unless you are from the South. Those laws were state laws and there were different laws in all of the southern states. Jim Crow laws did not exist in the North. But in the south if you were Black you at least knew what the rules were. In the North there were no Jim Crow laws, but in some cases the segregation was just as pronounced. For instance, Blacks could only live in certain neighborhoods, they couldn't go into certain establishments, could only hold certain jobs, etc. If a Black family did move into an all white neighborhood in many cases they would be burned or bombed out or simply driven out. If they managed to stay the whites would all move out. Prices dropped, stores closed, and Blacks who otherwise couldn't afford the homes were able to buy them. Civil rights laws could not have been expected to correct overnight what was over a hundred years in the making. Affirmative action was a pro active step to hurry the process along. The government tried a lot things - mostly throwing money at the problem. Most of those didn't work - many public housing projects for instance. Affirmative action certainly worked for some. I don't know how successful it has been overall and I am somewhat ambivalent on whether or not it should be continued. You seem quite bitter about affirmative action and if it has affected you or your family negatively that is understandable. But I believe that you are badly mistaken about the prejudicial affect of segregation in the North and Jim Crow in the South. I think it will remain with us for many years. All you have to do is drive through Detroit to see it. And by the way I'm not Black, nor am I a bleeding heart - just someone who lived through and witnessed the transition.

By redwood on 2013 01 11, 4:09 pm CST

Jim Crow in the South died before me, and I refuse to take blame for it, for i was not responsible for what happened before my time. I was schooled, worship, live in a neighborhood and work where blacks were schooled, worship, live and work. On the other hand, I do not deny that racism lives in the hearts and minds of some, white and black, in the south, north and elsewhere. I don't see a color when I see Susan Rice. but I confess to seeing a woman, because she is an attractive woman (no "Realist" is not a pen name for Brent Mussberger). when I see Susan Rice, I mainly see a political lackey and think what a waste. I don't like political lackeys of any race, creed or color, be they Obama's lackeys like the Susan Rice's of the world, who Obama wound-up and marched out before the public to blindly and unquestionably repeat his political and campaign spin on the all-out attack that killed our countrymen in Libya, or be they the Third Reich's minions who blindly and unquestionably did what they were told to do to the world, or be they the Colin Powell's of the world, who was Bush's "tell them there are weapons of mass destruction" lackey as surely as Rice was Obama's "blame it on a cartoon" lackey. The whole lot lack what our government and society needs; no wonder the word "lack" is in "lackey."

By realist on 2013 01 11, 5:13 pm CST

@3 YOUR COMMENTS: "No employer holds a bias against a good worker; there are so few good workers around that demographics are of no consequence. It is when certain demographic groups such as blacks become corrupted by political and legal favoritism that a justifiable prejudice among the rest of us arises. "

Are you saying that racism no longer exists and "NO EMPLOYER" holds bias. Really? What world do you live in? Also, could you clarify "JUSTIFIABLE PREJUDICE"? Are you saying that people (the Americans, the "rest of us" as you term it) should discriminate against blacks because of affirmative action (or because of their "so called" moaning and crying)?? You are ridiculous, ignorant, clueless and racist. Get out of your whitewashed bubble and keep comments like that to yourself.

By dp78 on 2013 01 11, 6:07 pm CST

Realist - who is blaming you for Jim Crow?

By Redwood on 2013 01 11, 6:46 pm CST

ABA MODERATOR: I certainly hope that Judge Coar's comments were not revised because of @2's uninformed, cynical comment. Judge Coar very clearly states at mark 18:18 of the podcast that SEGREGATION killed Black entrepreneurship.

His point is that too often, many people of color enter into the legal profession (as opposed to pursuing a MBA and learning to make businesses, especially those in their own communities, more competitive). For black who identify with the black American experience, the Jim Crow/Segregation era of American history is so engrained in their sense of self, that it informs their decision to become lawyers (advocates who make things right)- but they will never be successful as lawyers if they 1) do not understand how to run a business (their law firm) or 2) cannot bring in business (the assumption being that black lawyers cannot attract business from white or non-black clients).

This needs to be fixed immediately. I am shocked and appalled that a judge's comments would be revised based on the failed attempt at humor of someone who is known for making inappropriate remarks in this forum.

By PECCAVI on 2013 01 13, 3:00 am CST

Re: "Susan Rice, who is now the U.N. secretary..." I thought the U.N. Secretary General was Mr. Ban, Ki-Moon, and I thought Ambassador Susan E. Rice is the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations .

By JED on 2013 01 13, 2:42 pm CST

Well, the congresswoman was probably using "U.N. Secretary" in the manner our friends across the way use "Foreign Secretary." Maybe everyone in congress refers to the Secretary of State as the "U.N. Secretary."

As far as the ignorant remark at #10, I can only assume it comes from someone too young to have experienced the real history of the matter. One of the odd impacts of segregation, so often covered over today, was the rise of very prosperous enclaves of black businesses. There were black owned and operated restauarants, clubs, theatres, groceries, launderies, hardware and dry good stores, legal, dental and medical offices, all flourishing in a business environment where they were effectively protected from competition for their customer base. In a few cities, some of the old sites have been rehabilitated and preserved for history, but in the main, desegregation destroyed nearly all of them, so long ago that most people (like No. 10 above) don't even remember that they existed.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 13, 3:40 pm CST

McLeod - you make the point that desegregation destroyed nearly all Black owned businesses as if that were a truism. That is a very broad statement that is somewhat counterintuitive. I can see how that may have occurred in a few instances, but I challenge you to produce empirical data or cite some scholarly work to prove your point.

By Redwood on 2013 01 13, 4:04 pm CST

I make the point that I was here and I saw it. If you want to re-write history to match what you would like history to have been instead, find your own "empirical data."

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 13, 7:15 pm CST

I would add that, listening to the audio at 18:18 (which I had not before my original comment), it does sound like Judge Coar did say "segregation killed black entrepreneurs." It would not have occurred to me that he actually meant to say that, given that my recollection of the times was strikingly different. However, things could well have been very different for black businesses in Birmingham, Alabama, and in any case, the controlling rule for transcription is that the transcription of Judge Coar's comments should be true to what he meant to say.

As far as the substance of the comment, it remains my own recollection that there were many successful black entrepreneurs during that period of our history that was burdened by segregation. I think it would be interesting to see a scholarly exposition on the point (should anyone be interested in the topic) but the inquiry is not likely to be supported because it is easier to slop out a polarized, revisionist account in which there were no black people economically benefiting from segregation. In my opinion, politically-motivated revisions of history have not helped and will not help to further progress in the advancement of civil rights for all people in this country.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 13, 9:09 pm CST

McLeod - I was here too. I didn't think you could back up your point which is likely nothing more than an assumption based on a racial stereotype. You are simply assuming that Black customers of Black businesses opted to do business with White owned businesses instead once the opportunity presented itself.

By Redwood on 2013 01 14, 1:22 am CST

No. I am simply knowing for a fact that that a large number of black businesses did not survive desegregation. And you have not backed up your claim with "empirical evidence" either (despite insisting on it for points you disagree with). You are simply basing your position on racist stereotypes that assume blacks were not capable of establishing and operating businesses for the entire first half of the twentieth century.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 14, 7:15 am CST

Also, you might check "How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America," copyright 1983 and 2000 by Manning Marable, esp. at p. 164, which pretty much tells the story.

Or, if not too lazy, you could check any of the other 2,850 results returned by a simple Google search of the phrase, "desegregation destroyed black businesses." But, you obviously are too lazy, or simply unwilling to deal with reality.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 14, 7:39 am CST

McLeod - you are the one that started this discussion with a general statement at 12 that "desegregation destroyed nearly all" Black owned businesses with nothing to back it up other than your memory. I simply asked you to back it up. Instead of doing that you demanded that I prove your general statement to be incorrect and pointed out that if you have nothing to back it up you must be making an assumption based on a racial stereotype. Then you make the silly argument that I am making an assumption based on a racial stereotype. No I recognize that many people have gone out of business over the years for a whole variety of reasons. You attribute the fact that nearly all Blacks went out of business to desegregation. I simply asked you to prove it as it seemed to me counterintuitive. Now you call me lazy for not helping you prove your point. I do acknowledge that I have more important things to do than to respond to your general statements of fact, however, I did do a brief Google search and discovered that you are not alone in making this argument. There appear to be others. Unfortunately I don't have time to see whether you general point can be proven. But I will acknowledge that some Black businesses went out of business because of desegregation. I will also tell you that based on my personal experience so did some White businesses as a result of White flight.

By redwood on 2013 01 14, 4:07 pm CST

Desegregation probably did play some role in the decline of African-American businesses, however, it was not the only contributing factor, (perhaps not even the principal factor) to the decline of African-American small businesses. Periodic white race riots from the end of the ninteenth century through the middle of the twentith century followed by the urban renewal programs undoubtly played a central role in the decline of African-American businesses and property ownership.

By Schills on 2013 01 14, 5:26 pm CST

Sure dedwood, scamper off. I'm sure you're late for some appearance where you plan to deny the Holocaust happened too.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 15, 12:15 am CST

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