September 9, 2011
Retired Judge Gordon A. Martin Jr., a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice during the climatic days of the 1960s civil rights movement, delivered the inaugural lecture in the McGeorge Legal Studies Center's Hugh and Hazel Darling Foundation Grand Salon on Sept. 8.
Martin discussed his new book, "Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote," on Thursday, and delivered a video presentation of TV news clips to back his account of a groundbreaking case against a Mississippi county voting registrar. United States v. Lynd was the first trial that resulted in the contempt-of-court conviction of a southern registrar who had refused to allow blacks to register to vote.
"The book is really a story about brave individuals, not the legal process," Martin said. "The courage of the 16 African-American witnesses who risked their lives to come forward in the midst of KKK violence that terrorized Mississippi is compelling. In researching the book, I was proud to be able to tell their sons, daughters, nieces and nephews about these true heroes."
Martin, who later served as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Trial Court for 20 years, is an adjunct professor at New England School of Law and has been a visiting professor at the law schools of Tulane, University of San Diego, and the University of Mississippi.
Professor Brian Landsberg, who also was an attorney with the Civil Rights Division of Department of Justice in the 1960s, introduced Martin to the audience of students and faculty. Landsberg wrote about his own experiences in the neighboring state of Alabama in his 2007 book, "Free at Last to Vote: The Alabama Origins of the 1965 Voting Rights Act."
"I am delighted that Professor Ruth Jones, our Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship, suggested a 'book talk' as the inaugural event of the celebration recognizing the completion of the Legal Studies Center," said Assistant Dean for Library Services and Programs Matt Downs. "A book talk is so very appropriate, especially for this room, the Grand Salon, whose construction was made possible through the generosity of the Hugh & Hazel Darling Foundation that has been instrumental in promoting legal education and public understanding of the legal system in California.