The Color of Law (Hardcover)

Ernie Goodman, Detroit, and the Struggle for Labor and Civil Rights (Great Lakes Books)

By Dave Riddle, David Elsila, Steve Babson

Great Lakes Books Series, 9780814334966, 558pp.

Publication Date: October 6, 2010

List Price: 29.99*
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In a working life that spanned half a century, Ernie Goodman was one of the nation's preeminent defense attorneys for workers and the militant poor. His remarkable career put him at the center of the struggle for social justice in the twentieth century, from the sit-down strikes of the 1930s to the Red Scare of the 1950s to the freedom struggles, anti-war demonstrations, and ghetto rebellions of the 1960s and 1970s. The Color of Law: Ernie Goodman, Detroit, and the Struggle for Labor and Civil Rights traces Goodman's journey through these tumultuous events and highlights the many moments when changing perceptions of social justice clashed with legal precedent.

Authors Steve Babson, Dave Riddle, and David Elsila tell Goodman's life story, beginning with his formative years as the son of immigrant parents in Detroit's Jewish ghetto, to his early ambitions as a corporate lawyer, and his conversion to socialism and labor law during the Great Depression. From Detroit to Mississippi, Goodman saw police and other officials giving the "color of law" to actions that stifled freedom of speech and nullified the rights of workers and minorities. The authors highlight Goodman's landmark cases in defense of labor and civil rights and examine the complex relationships he developed along the way with individuals like Supreme Court Justice and former Michigan governor Frank Murphy, UAW president Walter Reuther, Detroit mayor Coleman Young, and congressman George Crockett. Drawing from a rich collection of letters, oral histories, court records, and press accounts, the authors re-create the compelling story of Goodman's life. The Color of Law demonstrates that the abuse of power is non-partisan and that individuals who oppose injustice can change the course of events.

About the Author

Steve Babson is author of Working Detroit: The Making of a Union Town (Wayne State University Press, 1986), Building the Union: Skilled Workers and Anglo-Gaelic Immigrants in the Rise of the UAW, and The Unfinished Struggle: Turning Points in American Labor, 1877-Present. He is also the editor of Lean Work: Empowerment and Exploitation in the Global Auto Industry (Wayne State University Press, 1995) and Confronting Change: Auto Labor and Lean Production in North America.Dave Riddle is a former truck driver and Teamster member who has lived in Detroit for nearly forty years. His work as a historian has focused on the politics of race and class in Detroit's blue-collar suburbs. David Elsila worked in the labor movement for thirty years as a labor journalist, including twenty-two years as editor of Solidarity, the national publication of the UAW. He has been an instructor of journalism at Wayne State University and has served on the boards of the Metro Detroit ACLU, Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice, and the Cranbrook Peace Foundation. He is co-author of Working Detroit: The Making of a Union Town (Wayne State University Press, 1986), with Steve Babson, Ron Alpern, and John Revitte.