The Thunder of Angels: The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the People Who Broke the Back of Jim Crow

By Donnie Williams; Wayne Greenhaw | Go to book overview

9
In Federal Court

ON THE FIRST DAY of February, when Fred Gray filed Browder v. Gayle, Frank M. Johnson, Jr., the young district judge who had been appointed to the position in mid-November, wrote to Joseph Hutchenson, the chief judge of the Fifth Circuit, asking that Hutchenson appoint a three-judge panel to hear the case. Upon reading Johnson's request, Hutchenson shot back a quick reply: "It doesn't take a three-judge panel to hear a matter of local law." The thirty-seven-year-old Johnson, who had cut his teeth as an assistant U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama, where, among other cases, he had prosecuted a defendant who was charged with slavery, sat down and fired off another letter to Hutchenson, stating that Alabama's laws on segregation were the centerpiece guiding the bus situation in Montgomery. He felt it sufficiently important that the case be given constitutional status. But Hutchenson would not be moved. He "begged to differ" with Johnson, whom he told to try the case by himself. This time Johnson wrote a threepage, single-spaced, detailed letter, stating emphatically that the U.S. Constitution was in question. Hutchenson finally

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The Thunder of Angels: The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the People Who Broke the Back of Jim Crow
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents vii
  • Author's Note ix
  • Preface - America's Bus xi
  • Preface - A Personal History xv
  • 1: Before the Beginning 1
  • 2: His Own Man 21
  • 3: A Reporter's Scoop 67
  • 4: Hanging from the Stars 89
  • 5: Rough Days and Dangerous Nights 115
  • 6: The White Preacher 137
  • 7: The White Establishment Uses the Law 147
  • 8: King on Trial 177
  • 9: In Federal Court 207
  • 10: A Long, Hot Summer 223
  • 11: [A Glorious Daybreak] 235
  • Epilogue 257
  • Acknowledgments 275
  • Notes and Sources 277
  • Bibliography 283
  • Index 287
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