A Black Woman Breaks Barriers in the Law, the Military, and the Ministry
by Tonya Bolden
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 31 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 30 Aug 2021
W. W. Norton & Company, Norton Young Readers
Coretta Scott King Honor–winning author Tonya Bolden chronicles the life of an intrepid lawyer and civil rights pioneer.
Dovey Johnson Roundtree was most famous for her successful defense of an indigent Black man accused of the murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer, a prominent white Washington, DC, socialite, in 1965. Despite her triumph in this high-profile case, Roundtree continued to represent the poor and the underserved. She was the first lawyer to bring a bus desegregation case before the Interstate Commerce Commission, clinching the ruling that enabled Robert F. Kennedy to enforce bus integration. She was also among the first Black women to enter the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and was one of the first ordained female ministers in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Tracing Roundtree’s life from her childhood in Jim Crow North Carolina through her adulthood, Tonya Bolden illuminates a little-known figure in American history who believed the law should serve the people, and places her firmly in the context of twentieth-century civil rights and African American culture.
About the Author: Tonya Bolden is a children's writer who has authored more than forty books. She has received a Coretta Scott King Book Award honor as well as the James Madison Award.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 3 members
In this well-written account of the life story of Dovey J. Roundtree, author Tonya Bolden shows how Dovey's success as an Army WAC, a lawyer, and a minister was possible because she "came from fighting stock," and was supported by her family and others such as Mary McLeod Bethune, Pauli Murray, and Mary Neptune, a professor at Spelman College. Dovey's strength and determination are clearly documented in the text and by primary sources. This is a complicated story--one of astounding perseverance and a will that was strong enough to break barriers. Overall, Bolden shows how faith in religion and faith in the law were also strong supports. This narrative offers many options for discussion and further learning--topics such as racial justice, women's history, civil rights, and biographical narrative come to mind. Another interesting focus is to investigate Tonya Bolden's writing type--how she creates interest while providing content. There is a great deal to learn from this important book.
I cannot believe I hadn't heard of Dovey Johnson Roundtree before this. She is the exact kind of lawyer I want to emulate after graduation, fighting for individuals' civil rights and liberties. I greatly admire her dedication to her beliefs in the face of adversity and her refusal to accept less just because she was a Black woman. Not only did she dislike the system as it oppressed her and other Black people and women, she spent years learning and working to push back against that system for herself and for others. I'm going to add her memoir to my list, but I am so grateful for this introduction to her life and story. I can only imagine the world of good this book can do in the hands of younger readers searching for historical role models. What a phenomenal woman and a phenomenal book.