SimpleJustice by Richard Kluger
SimpleJusticechanged the way I perceived social change and the law. Kluger clearlydemonstrates that the cases reaching the Supreme Court in the earlyAmerican society were the result of hardship and struggle of somepeople in the minority population. On the other hand, the courtopinions and appellate briefs that are mainly found in texts of thelegal institutions only capture part of the story but missed thedimensions of social change that were taking place in the society(Kluger 615). Besides, there were activists for racial equality forwhom the law could only provide a partial solution and everythingelse they had to struggle to attain by other means. Thus, it showsthe importance of appreciating the social goals and human values(Kluger 742).
Thebook introduced me to the complexity of social justice and the law.Consequently, I now recognize the complex relationship between socialchange and the law. The connection depends on the structure ofinequality and injustice in a particular society and theopportunities available for challenging that structure. Therefore, itall depends on the organizational capacity and resources available inmarginalized communities but also the courage of the activists whofight back against inequalities and injustices also contributessignificantly (Kluger 656). The usual historian account of the mainlyemphasizes on the environment that was created by the reversal of thePlessy and the exposure of to the hypocrisy brought about by thedoctrines promoting racial supremacy. However, Kluger takes a uniqueperspective to remind the reader some of the complicating factorsduring the case and gives an in-depth and rare insight into thecourt’s deliberative process. For example, Kluger’s discussionhelps me understand the process by which justices reached a decisionin the Brown case. Moreover, he extensively discusses the strategiesused by the NAACP that made the decision possible. His analysishelped me appreciate the civil rights struggle from theAfrican-Americans perspectives. It makes the black teachers, parents,and community leaders the real heroes during that period as theyrisked their lives so that the African American children could get adecent education similar to the white children. In most cases, theirstories are invisible in the Supreme Court opinion but Kluger clearlydemonstrates that without their hard work and sacrifice, the lawwould never have advanced to what we have today. For example,Reverend Joseph DeLaine struggle were translated into a legalargument, which helped show the violence suffered by the blackcommunity (Kluger 615).
Itis interesting that the book provokes my thoughts to question theaccountability of lawyers to the communities they serve by comparingthose responsibilities with the role of NAACP in sponsoring the fullspectrum of social movement activities such demanding for socialintegration and political inclusion as discussed by Kluger ( Kluger671). Byanalyzing the NAACP organization, Kluger shows that the lawyers canstill be leaders in the campaigns for social change although theyoccupy a relatively small role of a social movement (Kluger 321). Onthe other hand, we often overlook the role played by the minority whowere not actively involved in the court cases. Nonetheless, Klugerputs them in the limelight by highlighting their struggles andsignificant to the social change. For example, hetracks the entire history of important rulings from the culturalroots and remote legal settings to the complex qualities of thepeople who brought the cases to court (Kluger 40). Thus, it helps inone acknowledge that the contemporary civil rights and protectionshave grown out of the courage of a small group of oppressed people inthe 1950s that made it their mission to use the law as a means tohold the privileged in the society accountable.
ThroughKluger’s analysis, I now understand how the law gave the Americansthe permission to hate from the time it allowed the inequalities ofslavery and segregation to dictate how blacks and whites related.Therefore, racial separation created inferiority as to the status inthe society that damaged the relations, especially among youngpeople, which lasted even into their adulthood. In the end, peoplehad to be forced to integrate to deal with inequalities anddiscrimination, which taught the blacks to acknowledge their simplejustice as the country experienced a slow fading era of degradation,injustice, and abuse (Kluger 710). I view the book as a terrificinspiration for people who are willing to be brave by bearing some ofthe responsibility towards eliminating the damage resulting fromdiscrimination and poverty. It inspires the efforts to continuefighting the vices of poverty with a modern focus on social justiceand economic progress rather than basing it on racial identity(Kluger 746). Furthermore, the country needs a renewed commitment tofederal social policy, which should be justified regarding nationalunity and aimed toward the protection and promotion of civil andeconomic rights for all. Thus, his description of the events thattook place at the beginning of civil rights struggle reaffirms thatany analysis of the complex social relations in the United Statesmust acknowledge the central role played by racism.
Kluger,Richard. SimpleJustice: The History of Brown V. Board of Education and BlackAmerica`s Struggle for Equality.New York: Vintage Books, 2004. Print.