Knocking Down Barriers: My Fight for Black America

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Northwestern University Press, Sep 7, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 313 pages
Winner, 2006 Illinois State Historical Society Book Award Certificate of Excellence
Recipient, 2007 Hyde Park Historical Society Paul Cornell Award

Sixty years ago, when Truman Gibson reported for duty at the War Department, Washington, D.C. was a southern city in its unbending segregation as well as in its steamy summers. Gibson had no illusions, but as someone who'd enjoyed the best of the vibrant black culture of prewar America, he was shocked to find the worst of the Jim Crow South in the nation's capital. What Gibson accomplished as an advocate for African American soldiers-first as a lawyer working for the Secretary of War, then as a member of President Truman's "Black Cabinet"--is a large part of the history of the struggle for civil rights in the American military; and it is a compelling part of the story that Gibson tells in this book, a memoir of a life spent making a difference in the world one step at a time.
A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Gibson took his fight for racial justice to the corridors of powers, arguing against restrictive real estate covenants before the U.S. Supreme Court, opposing such iconic figures as Generals Dwight Eisenhower and George C. Marshall in campaigning for the integration of the armed forces, and challenging white control of professional sports by creating a boxing promotion empire that made television history. A firsthand account of the nitty-gritty of twentieth-century race relations in the worlds of law, the military, sports, and entertainment, Gibson's memoir is also an engaging recollection of encounters with the likes of Thurgood Marshall, W. E. B. DuBois, Eleanor Roosevelt, George Patton, Jackie Robinson, and Joe Louis, among others. As a historical record and as an intimate look at a bygone era with all its charms and hardships, the book is an essential chapter in our nation's story.
 

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Knocking down barriers: my fight for Black America

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The last surviving member of the Roosevelt-Truman administration's "Black Cabinet" recalls his work, primarily in the long, bitter struggle to desegregate the armed forces but also in a varied and ... Read full review

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Contents

The Way We Were
3
Atlanta Columbus and WEB DuBois
20
Black Metropolis
30
A Raisin in the Sun
41
The Black Worlds Fair
52
Joe Louis Chicago
67
On to the War Department
77
The War at Home
94
The Ninetysecond Vindicated
177
At Last
189
More of the Same
200
A Presidential Order
211
Joe Louis War and Boxing
234
Boxing Promoter
241
Mob Allegations
260
Remembrances
275

Negro Troop Policy
105
A Demand for Combat
129
The Negro Soldier
141
Buffalo Soldiers
153
Notes
283
Index
301
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

The last surviving member of Truman's "Black Cabinet" tells of waging the war for civil rights-as a lawyer, a boxing promoter, an entrepreneur, and a black man committed to justice

Sixty years ago, when Truman Gibson reported for duty at the War Department, Washington, D.C. was a southern city in its unbending segregation as well as in its steamy summers. Gibson had no illusions, but as someone who'd enjoyed the best of the vibrant black culture of prewar America, he was shocked to find the worst of the Jim Crow South in the nation's capital. What Gibson accomplished as an advocate for African American soldiers-first as a lawyer working for the Secretary of War, then as a member of President Truman's "Black Cabinet"--is a large part of the history of the struggle for civil rights in the American military; and it is a compelling part of the story that Gibson tells in this book, a memoir of a life spent making a difference in the world one step at a time.
A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Gibson took his fight for racial justice to the corridors of powers, arguing against restrictive real estate covenants before the U.S. Supreme Court, opposing such iconic figures as Generals Dwight Eisenhower and George C. Marshall in campaigning for the integration of the armed forces, and challenging white control of professional sports by creating a boxing promotion empire that made television history. A firsthand account of the nitty-gritty of twentieth-century race relations in the worlds of law, the military, sports, and entertainment, Gibson's memoir is also an engaging recollection of encounters with the likes of Thurgood Marshall, W. E. B. DuBois, Eleanor Roosevelt, George Patton, Jackie Robinson, and Joe Louis, among others. As a historical record and as an intimate look at a bygone era with all its charms and hardships, the book is an essential chapter in our nation's story.

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