Dovey Johnson Roundtree: Legendary Civil Rights Warrior and Defense Attorney Dies at 104

dovey johnson roundtree

Dovey Johnson Roundtrtree

*She lived to be 104. Dovey Johnson Roundtree who was hailed as a criminal defense attorney and civil rights warrior has as died. Roundtree, who  played a critical early role in the desegregation of interstate bus travel and mentored several generations of black lawyers, died May 21 at an ­assisted-living facility in Charlotte.

Here’s more via The Independent:

In a career that spanned nearly half a century, Roundtree defended predominantly poor African-American clients – as well as black churches, community groups and the occasional politician.

Her best-known case involved Raymond Crump Jr, the black labourer accused in the 1964 killing of socialite and painter Mary Pinchot Meyer, a white woman. He was acquitted despite what initially appeared to be damning witness testimony, though the Meyer case remains unsolved.

“I think in the black community there was a feeling that even if Crump was innocent, he was a dead duck,” Roundtree said. “Even if he didn’t do it, he’s guilty. I took that as a personal challenge. I was caught up in civil rights, heart, body, and soul, but I felt law was one vehicle that would bring remedy.”

When Roundtree began taking cases in the early 1950s, there were few black lawyers in Washington and even fewer black female lawyers.

When Roundtree began taking cases in the early 1950s, there were few black lawyers in Washington and even fewer black female lawyers.

Those who did practice were banned from using the cafeteria, bathrooms or the local law libraries which had whites-only policies.

African-American clients who brought personal injury or negligence suits were euphemistically “referred uptown” – directed to white lawyers who had a better chance of winning over judges. The “uptown” lawyers then paid black lawyers a fee for referring their clients.

But the story goes that Roundtree and Robertson kept clients in their office, regardless of the case. “We worked for eggs and collard greens,” Roundtree once quipped, noting that she and her partner often accepted clients who couldn’t pay legal fees. For a time, they held second jobs to supplement their incomes.

Get the rest of this story at The Independent

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