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We Face the Dawn

Oliver Hill, Spottswood Robinson, and the Legal Team That Dismantled Jim Crow
Margaret Edds


BUY Cloth · 424 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813940441 · $24.95 · Feb 2018
BUY Ebook · 424 pp. · ISBN 9780813940458 · $29.95 · Feb 2018
BUY Paper · 424 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813942643 · $24.95 · Dec 2018

The decisive victories in the fight for racial equality in America were not easily won, much less inevitable; they were achieved through carefully conceived strategy and the work of tireless individuals dedicated to this most urgent struggle. In We Face the Dawn, Margaret Edds tells the gripping story of how the South's most significant grassroots legal team challenged the barriers of racial segregation in mid-century America.

Virginians Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson initiated and argued one of the five cases that combined into the landmark Brown v. Board of Education, but their influence extends far beyond that momentous ruling. They were part of a small brotherhood, headed by social-justice pioneer Thurgood Marshall and united largely through the Howard Law School, who conceived and executed the NAACP’s assault on racial segregation in education, transportation, housing, and voting. Hill and Robinson’s work served as a model for southern states and an essential underpinning for Brown. When the Virginia General Assembly retaliated with laws designed to disbar the two lawyers and discredit the NAACP, they defiantly carried the fight to the United States Supreme Court and won.

At a time when numerous schools have resegregated and the prospects of many minority children appear bleak, Hill and Robinson’s remarkably effective campaign against various forms of racial segregation can inspire a new generation to embrace educational opportunity as the birthright of every American child.

Reviews:


The story of Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson—and all they did to change Virginia and America—needed telling, and Margaret Edds has done a masterful job. I knew both men and was honored as Governor to unveil a civil rights memorial at our Capitol with their likenesses prominently displayed. Hill and Robinson and their many dedicated colleagues loved Virginia and spent their entire lives turning the Commonwealth from past to future. This book is an appropriate tribute to their efforts.

Senator Tim Kaine

The product of prodigious research, We Face the Dawn tells the terrifically important story of a largely unheralded subject. Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson lie just outside the pantheon of much-studied NAACP lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall, Charles Houston, and William Hastie. Yet these two lawyers were key figures in the legal arm of the movement, and they practiced in an equally key state, Virginia. Edds has done a painstaking piece of research in unearthing their lives and careers, and her book communicates the rich details of those lives and much of their importance.

Kenneth W. Mack, Harvard Law School, is the author of Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer

A thoughtful historical account of a legal campaign that formed one of the main pillars for Brown v. Board of Education.... Hill and Robinson provide exemplary—and timely—models of citizenship. A welcome contribution to the literature of the civil rights movement.

Kirkus Reviews

The reader is presented with vibrant portrayals of Roanoke, Richmond and Washington from the perspective of successful African-American entrepreneurs, lawyers and other professionals and their business, social and religious lives in a community of neighborhoods. We Face the Dawn is a welcome addition to the story of how an oppressed segment of American citizens were able to build success for themselves and others.

The Roanoke Times

A legal thriller of the non-fiction variety... A thorough, compelling profile of the courage and diligence of the two men and their associates.

Virginia Lawyer Magazine

With unobtrusive eloquence and reserved passion, Edds depicts an era during which much was accomplished and reminds us that much remains to be realized....Vivid and vital, We Face the Dawn lays out the lessons of the past, warns of the dangers of the present and illuminates the times of two stalwart men and the splendor of their achievements.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

In We Face the Dawn, veteran political reporter Margaret Edds skillfully places Hill and Robinson within the historical, social and political context of Virginia and the nation in the early to mid-20th century.... [Edds offers] a well-written story about the lives of two important Virginians and the efforts by them and their legal team to advance the cause of freedom.

Virginian-Pilot

About the Author: 

Margaret Edds, a journalist, is the author of Finding Sara: A Daughter’s Journey and An Expendable Man: The Near Execution of Earl Washington, Jr. among other books.

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