"It is on the shoulders of people like Dovey Johnson Roundtree that we stand today, and it is with her commitment to our core ideals that we will continue moving toward a better tomorrow."
First Lady Michelle Obama, July 2009
* She led the charge for justice in the segregated courthouses of the Nation's Capital.
* She shattered Jim Crow in interstate travel with a landmark bus desegregation case.
* She changed the racial face of the Army during World War II.
* She became the legal voice for Washington's black poor and a mentor to two generations of African American attorneys who followed her into the courtroom.
In a stunning memoir written with National Magazine Award-winner Katie McCabe, pioneering civil rights lawyer, Army veteran and ordained minister Dovey J. Roundtree tells her remarkable story. To follow her journey from the poverty of Jim Crow North Carolina to the courtrooms of Washington, DC is to watch the entire history of the civil rights movement roll past. As a protege of activist Mary McLeod Bethune, Roundtree became one of the first women to break the gender and color barriers in the World War II military. In November, 1955, one month before Rosa Parks ignited the protest movement led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Roundtree wrested from the Interstate Commerce Commission a desegregation ruling that demolished the doctrine of 'separate but equal' in interstate bus travel and enabled Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to combat Southern resistance to the 1961 Freedom Riders' campaign.
At a time when black attorneys in the Nation's Capital had to leave the courthouses to use the bathroom, Dovey J. Roundtree took on Washington's white legal establishment in behalf of black clients, and she prevailed. Even as she opened doors for black attorneys, both male and female, at the DC bar, Roundtree broke new ground in 1961 as one of the first women to be ordained to the ministry of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. From the pulpit of Allen Chapel AME Church, located in one of Washington's most violent neighborhoods, she launched the final battle of her life, the one she continues to fight today. "Justice Older than the Law," a richly-voiced first-person account that reads like a novel, captures the sweep of nine tumultuous decades of our country's history, and a vision of justice that goes far beyond the law.
Excerpts from the commendation of the judges, Association of Black Women Historians, which awarded the book its 2009 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize:
"The committee was impressed with the innovative presentation of Ms. Roundtree. Employing the novel format aided in connecting with the person and the pathos of Dovey...Your work enhances our understanding of the importance of storytelling as biography."
"I have a proclivity for fiction and find the character 'Dovey' a real, heartfelt woman whose humble beginnings reflect the progress of the race from the 1920's to the 1960's...amazing story."