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Exporting American Dreams

Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey

Mary L. Dudziak
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Exporting American Dreams
    Book Description:

    Mary Dudziak'sExporting American Dreamstells the little-known story of Thurgood Marshall's work with Kenyan leaders as they fought with the British for independence in the early 1960s. Not long after he led the legal team inBrown v. Board of Education, Marshall aided Kenya's constitutional negotiations, as adversaries battled over rights and land--not with weapons, but with legal arguments. Set in the context of Marshall's civil rights work in the United States, this transnational history sheds light on legal reform and social change in the midst of violent upheavals in Africa and America. While the struggle for rights on both continents played out on a global stage, it was a deeply personal journey for Marshall. Even as his belief in the equalizing power of law was challenged during his career as a Supreme Court justice, and in Kenya the new government sacrificed the rights he cherished, Kenya's founding moment remained for him a time and place when all things had seemed possible.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3989-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Map of Kenya
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. 1-10)

    It was January 1960, but it was summer. An American lawyer arrived in a new land, but he called it his home.

    Thurgood Marshall had grown up with family legends about his strong Congo forbears, about a grandfather so ornery as to lead a frustrated slave master to release him. But the Africa his family had been stolen from was something of a mystery, until that January when Thurgood Marshall went home.¹

    Marshall was a civil rights legend in America when he began his African journey. It became one of the great adventures of his life. He followed a path...

    (pp. 11-36)

    Thurgood Marshall met Bernard Taper in New York on a flight to Atlanta in 1956. It was a frigid and icy late February afternoon. Marshall was on the plane, in a double-breasted suit, his large frame folded into a seat, when Taper boarded. The reporter was to accompany the lawyer to a civil rights meeting. “During the takeoff, Marshall sat hunched at the window, gazing with concentration into the heavily overcast sky, as if contributing his willpower to the effort to get us off the ground.” When the plane was aloft, Marshall relaxed and lit a cigarette. “One thing troubles...

    (pp. 37-64)

    “Dear Sirs, After ten meetings 2500 of us have decided that if you give the African equal voting power as the Europeans in this country we will blow up everything in Kenya,” read an anonymous letter from Kenyan settlers to British officials in January 1960. “Then the African can start from the beginning the same as we did.” Another letter soon followed: “we will not leave one railway Bridge, Power Station, or any Government Building standing.” There would be “nothing left in Kenya worth having.” As 1960 began, Kenya was at the end of the Mau Mau era. A seven...

    (pp. 65-96)

    Midas might have touched the walls of Lancaster House and reached up to brush his fingertips across the ceiling, drenching it in gold. The brilliance of the fine, detailed gold engravings, enhanced in the principal meeting room by a massive crystal chandelier, nearly eclipsed the beauty of the fi ne paintings, mostly of elegant women and children and of angelic visions, gracing the walls. In its opulence, it was a setting designed, it would seem, for one ruler to impress another.¹

    Into these halls and up the gilded staircase came not only the British officials used to these accoutrements, but...

    (pp. 97-130)

    It must have seemed bright, the morning sun on the Nairobi airstrip, as the small plane carrying the judge and the young lawyer touched down. They had fl own through the night, but the occupants of the plane were very much awake.

    July 1963. The runway cut the same path across the fl at plain south of the city as it had before. But much had changed in the three years since Thurgood Marshall had last been to Kenya. In early 1960, independence had been a demand. Now it was an inevitability, with ceremonies scheduled for December. Jomo Kenyatta, still...

    (pp. 131-160)

    Nineteen sixty-six was hot. St. Louis, Missouri, faced record temperatures and heat-related deaths that summer, setting tempers on edge. Racial tensions had boiled over already in Cleveland that June. Amid days of rioting, fires consumed blocks of homes and businesses until more than two thousand Ohio National Guardsmen were called in to restore order. Chicago and other cities also faced riots that summer. What was it about the heat of the summer that set cities on edge, when the underlying catalysts of poverty and injustice spanned the year?¹

    Once merely a Los Angeles neighborhood, Watts became a national symbol of...

    (pp. 161-172)

    If Thurgood Marshall’s greatest triumph was reaching the Supreme Court, it was also at the Court that he would experience his greatest frustration. The tools of constitutional change could bring about a just America, he thought. He was now in a position to see it happen. And then, before his eyes, something went terribly wrong.

    If one case stood out as the harbinger, it was a school desegregation case from Detroit. Three decades earlier, Marshall had fl own to Detroit to assess the circumstances of the city’s race riots in 1943. The intervening years had not been kind to the...

  12. APPENDIX: Thurgood Marshall’s Draft Bill of Rights for Kenya, 1960
    (pp. 173-184)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 185-234)
    (pp. 235-240)
  15. Afterword to the Paperback Edition
    (pp. 241-246)

    As this edition goes to press in 2011, a new democracy movement has emerged in North Africa and the Middle East. The movements that first toppled the regime in Tunisia, and then overthrew the Mubarak government in Egypt, were people’s movements, fueled by social media. Their impetus did not come from the outside. Still, in explaining the way Tunisia had empowered Egyptians, Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei quoted an American leader. Tunisia “sent a message everywhere to the Arab world that, to quote Barack Obama, ‘Yes, we can,’ you know, that it is doable. Then that we can be empowered...

  16. INDEX
    (pp. 247-264)