"ONE UNEASY AND FREQUENTLY ANGRY BLACK AMERICAN": EXCEPTIONAL PRESENTATION/ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF JUST BETWEEN US BLACKS, 1974, INSCRIBED BY AWARD-WINNING BLACK JOURNALIST CARL T. ROWAN
ROWAN, Carl T. Just Between Us Blacks. New York: Random House, 1974. Octavo, original half brown cloth, original dust jacket. $1200.
First edition of one of Rowan's most controversial books, a very scarce presentation/association copy inscribed on the half title by him to the distinguished judge who early defied death threats to desegregate New Orleans schools, "For J— Skelly Wright, who had guts when it was most needed—Carl T. Rowan."
Not long before he died in 2000, award-winning Black journalist and activist Carl Rowan observed: ''Racism is still very much a factor in America… [it] is part of the American culture." In 1950, in his first job as a reporter, Rowan criss-crossed the South, generating articles that became the basis for his 1952 book, South of Freedom. His reportage "made him one of the most highly visible and vocal Black men in America," prompting President Kennedy to appoint him deputy assistant secretary of state, as well as a delegate to the United Nations. Subsequently, when President Johnson named him director of USIA, Rowan became the "the highest-ranked Black in American government" (New York Times). In Just Between Us Blacks, drawn from his series of radio commentaries, Rowan calls himself "one uneasy and frequently angry Black American." The book's five expansive essays, together in print for the first time, confirm that view, and bluntly demonstrate his conviction that "white America remains terribly nervous about Black America." Rowan, who also co-authored Jackie Robinson's Wait Till Next Year (1960) and a biography of Thurgood Marshall, would often say: "I am a crusader for racial justice, and I will be to the day I die" (Washington Post).
The recipient of this highly memorable presentation/association copy is Judge James Skelly Wright, whose early judicial order for the desegregation of New Orleans public schools provoked threats against his life and cross-burnings. "In the end, Judge Wright had his way, bringing about not only the integration of the public schools in New Orleans but also the integration of universities, buses, parks, sporting events and voting lists, historic moves that reverberated elsewhere in the South" (New York Times). With his appointment by President Kennedy to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Judge Wright also played a key role in ending "de facto segregation in the D.C. public schools," and in 1969 was a key part of a "federal court panel that ruled that the statute on which the loyalty oath requirement for federal employees was based was unconstitutionally vague" and violated the Fifth Amendment. He later was the only member of the three-judge panel "to dissent from the injunction that the court issued to stop the publication of the Pentagon Papers. The Supreme Court vindicated Wright's view in its decision" (First Amendment Encyclopedia). "First Edition" stated on copyright page.
A fine copy.