In the struggle against apartheid, one often overlooked group of crusaders was the coterie of black lawyers who overcame the Byzantine system that the government established oftentimes explicitly to block the paths of its black citizens from achieving justice.
Now, in their own voices, we have the narratives of many of those lawyers as recounted in a series of oral interviews. Black Lawyers, White Courts is their story and the anti-apartheid story that has before now gone untold.
Professor Kenneth Broun conducted interviews with twenty-seven black South African lawyers. They were asked to tell about their lives, including their family backgrounds, education, careers, and their visions for the future. In many instances they also discussed their years in prison or exile, or under house arrest. Most told of both education and careers interrupted because of the ongoing struggle.
The story of the professional achievements of black lawyers in South Africa—indeed their very survival—provides an example of the triumph of individuals and, ultimately, of the law. Black Lawyers, White Courts is about South Africa, and about black professionals in that country, but the lessons its protagonists teach extend far beyond circumstances, geography, or race.
Kenneth S. Broun is the Henry Brandeis Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina Law School. Since 1986, he has traveled regularly to South Africa to conduct programs in trial advocacy training through the Black Lawyers Association of South Africa.
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