Follows Gibson's career from his time as a member of President Truman's "Black Cabinet" to his struggle for civil rights in the military. - (Baker & Taylor)
Winner, 2006 Illinois State Historical Society Book Award Certificate of Excellence
Recipient, 2007 Hyde Park Historical Society Paul Cornell Award
Sixty years ago, when Truman Gibson reported for duty at the War Department, Washington, D.C. was a southern city in its unbending segregation as well as in its steamy summers. Gibson had no illusions, but as someone who'd enjoyed the best of the vibrant black culture of prewar America, he was shocked to find the worst of the Jim Crow South in the nation's capital. What Gibson accomplished as an advocate for African American soldiers-first as a lawyer working for the Secretary of War, then as a member of President Truman's "Black Cabinet"--is a large part of the history of the struggle for civil rights in the American military; and it is a compelling part of the story that Gibson tells in this book, a memoir of a life spent making a difference in the world one step at a time.
A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Gibson took his fight for racial justice to the corridors of powers, arguing against restrictive real estate covenants before the U.S. Supreme Court, opposing such iconic figures as Generals Dwight Eisenhower and George C. Marshall in campaigning for the integration of the armed forces, and challenging white control of professional sports by creating a boxing promotion empire that made television history. A firsthand account of the nitty-gritty of twentieth-century race relations in the worlds of law, the military, sports, and entertainment, Gibson's memoir is also an engaging recollection of encounters with the likes of Thurgood Marshall, W. E. B. DuBois, Eleanor Roosevelt, George Patton, Jackie Robinson, and Joe Louis, among others. As a historical record and as an intimate look at a bygone era with all its charms and hardships, the book is an essential chapter in our nation's story.
- (Chicago Distribution Center
At a time when African Americans were barely allowed in the armed services, and then only in subservient positions, Gibson was a civilian aide to the secretary of war during World War II. He was in a position to lobby the government on behalf of African Americans, making him part of the unofficial "black cabinet," but also requiring him to be spare in his criticism of the Truman administration even as it practiced Jim Crow traditions. In this fascinating memoir, Gibson looks back on the struggle within Washington to integrate the armed services. Often caught in the crossfire between civil rights leaders and the administration, Gibson was in daily contact with the likes of Thurgood Marshall and W. E. B. DuBois, as well as Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton. Upon return to civilian life as a Chicago attorney, Gibson blazed other trails, notably fighting against restrictive real-estate covenants before the U.S. Supreme Court and acting as a fight promoter in the early days of television. A rich perspective on American race relations. ((Reviewed July 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.