John Marshall Harlan was the lone dissenter in one of the US Supreme Court's most significant race decisions of the 19th century. In lofty language much cited today, he wrote, "There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind......"
That dissent against a ruling that laid the foundation for Jim Crow laws - viewed as merely eccentric at the time - showed a dramatic evolution of Harlan's views on legal protections for blacks.
Harlan, a Kentucky native, went from being a critic of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation to a judge who left a powerful legacy of support for black civil rights.
What has been little discussed in tracking that evolution is …