Interview with Judge Robert Carter
Interview with Judge Robert Carter


Production Team: A

Interview Date: November 5, 1985

Camera Rolls: 159-164
Sound Rolls: 1130-1134

Interview gathered as part of Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years (1954-1965).
Produced by Blackside, Inc.
Housed at the Washington University Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Editorial Notes:

Preferred citation:
Interview with Judge Robert Carter, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 5, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of Eyes on the Prize.

INTERVIEW
FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

SOUND ROLL 1131, CAMERA ROLL 160.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

STILL, WE'RE ON SOUND ROLL 1131. WE'RE GOING TO TAKE THIRTY-FOUR. THIS IS 11/31/85. EYES ON THE PRIZE. INTERVIEWING JUDGE CARTER. SPEED.

QUESTION 1
INTERVIEWER:

LIFE IN THE SOUTH BEFORE BROWN IN THE EARLY FIFTIES. YOU WERE TRAVELING—YOU'RE SOUTHERN-BORN YOURSELF—WHAT'S IT LIKE FOR BLACKS IN THE SOUTH AT THIS TIME?

Judge Robert Carter:

Well, before Brown, the South was segregated. It was accepted that—by both by both sides, North and South—that segregation was a way of life and there were departures from it. Some Blacks went over the line but if you were in the South, I gather you knew exactly where the line was. It became—it was difficult for someone from the North who was a Black to go South because—you weren't used to the patterns and so you would cross—cross the line, and if one did there would be—there was likely to be a great deal of trouble about it. It wasn't you know the lynching and so forth that went on, but life in general was a way in which people knew where their—where they were going, where their place was. Blacks knew this. They didn't like it, but they did, and it didn't appear to me when I was going South that there—the vehemence of racism, overt racism which I encountered immediately after Brown, there seemed to be less of it and that was because the white—white in general didn't expect any—didn't expect things to change.

QUESTION 2
INTERVIEWER:

DO YOU REMEMBER ANY PARTICULAR STORIES OF THE TRAVELLING, AS YOU WERE DOING, AS YOU WERE DOING THE BROWN CASES IN THE LOWER COURTS?

Judge Robert Carter:

Well, I—we didn't have—I didn't have any while I was in Court. I really didn't have any particular problem. I think the it wasn't during Brown but the only memorable, well, there were a couple of little things, as a matter of fact, but they didn't occur during Brown. One was I—my first case in Mississippi and I went down to Mississippi with Judge Martley. It was her first—the first Black woman to appear in in the courts in Mississippi. And we were in the Federal Court, and we were putting these—it was a school teacher salary case, and we were putting these people on the stand and asking them questions and the courtroom was full of blacks and so forth. And the—at one time I recall that the superintendent wanted to ask me a question. I said, "No, this is my ballgame not yours. I ask the questions and you answer it." And the Judge, of course, had to say that was correct. Afterwards all over town in the barbershops and so forth there were reenacting Connie Martley and me these—questioning these folks. That I recall but that wasn't during Brown. I don't recall anything being particularly, you know, on the—what I think you might be interested in. I don't believe that I have anything memorable during Brown.

QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

NO, I—ACTUALLY IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE BROWN. I WAS JUST MERELY TRYING TO GET A SENSE OF THOSE KINDS OF STORIES AS YOU WERE JUST TELLING THAT, THAT GIVE A SENSE OF THE SOUTH THAT PEOPLE WHO DON'T—

Judge Robert Carter:

Well in another instance I was south in a case before a three judge court, and I was arguing a case that—with the attorney gen—I think it was in Tennessee and the attorney general that was arguing law to the judge, three judge court, and the judge when I got—I said, "That's not true. That's not what the law means," and the the attorney general got up and said, "Are you calling me a liar?" And the judge said—asked me to apologize. I said you've lost your mind. I'm not apologizing. I'm not. I didn't tell the man he was a liar. I disagree with him on the law. I have a right to do that. And that was that was a big story. I was shocked at that though, at the reaction of the judge but—but that's how things are, or were, I should say.

QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

LET'S STOP FOR A LITTLE. JUST MAKE A CHECK. EVERYBODY HAPPY HERE? ROLL PLEASE. [overlap] I'M GOING TO ASK YOU TO TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE WAYS IN WHICH THE COUNTRY HAD CHANGED IN THIS PERIOD SINCE WORLD WAR II, COMING INTO THE 1950S. MAYBE SOME OF THE KINDS OF FACTORS THAT WERE CREATING A DIFFERENT CLIMATE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, THE RETURNING BLACK VETS, ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE ECONOMIC SITUATION. I DON'T KNOW WHAT OTHER FACTORS THERE MIGHT BE.

Judge Robert Carter:

Well, before—after World War II there were a great many factors that occurred that brought about impatience. One was the war. We were fighting a war to end racism against Nazi Germany. Second was the entry of Japan into the war which eliminated the myth of white supremacy. And then it was the presence of Blacks in the army, and when I went in the army was segregated, and the segregation was eliminated shortly afterwards. I think it was after my service in the army. I'm not—time has coalesced, so I'm not sure but we started out segregated, with the Blacks not being officers and so forth in the army. And as a matter of fact, the group I was with from New Jersey went to a place in Al—in Georgia and about one third of the people had men, had a high school—I mean had college degrees, some of which had graduate degrees. I had a masters in law at the time and about half of them, at least half had high school degrees. And we went down to this place, and the first thing that the sergeant, I'm sorry it was a Black sergeant who was an old army officer there, and the captain of the group met us, and the first thing he said—he said, "You know, I don't believe in Niggers being educated and don't think that because you have a little education that you're going to get away with any anything here." So, for a while all we did was to—we didn't do anything really to help. All we were doing were cleaning brush and so forth around, and there was no use of the intelligence and skills of these people. Then the opportunity came to—they opened up the officers candidate school. All of this—these kinds of things, I think, created a restlessness on the part of of all of us, that we were not going to take. It created, I think, a sense of restlessness that we weren't really going to take the business of being pushed around, discriminated against without a fight and that that was the problem. Even in—before the war—even in places like I lived and grew up in New Jersey in East Orange, New Jersey, very nice suburb and community, better than New York bedroom. But they had a swimming—one of the best swimming teams in the country and all of the people that went there, all of the whites that went to school at the time had to swim, and had to learn how to and pass various tests. But when at gym class, when the time for whites to go to the swimming pool the Blacks were not allowed to go. We were only allowed to go in the swimming pool on Friday after school. And then they would wash the-water out for the for Monday. The Supreme Court of—in Trenton ruled that in a case that Blacks could not be excluded from school facilities. So I read that in a paper and the next day in school when the whistle blew for all to go down I went down there and of course I created a sensation and so forth. And I insisted on on being a part of that until the end of the term I graduated. They closed the pool down afterwards and just gave up. The whole business of this excellent swimming team and the effort on that basis, but this was a part of the feeling in the country. And I think that as it was going on we were talking about democracy and how much equality was here, and so forth, but at the same time Blacks were being asked to accept the subservient position. And so it was very hypocritical. Then the Myrdal Study came along, the American dilemma,[An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944), by Gunnar Myrdal. Cited by the Supreme Court in Brown.] all of which helped the intellectual fulcrum on this whole question. So this was what was building I think before—from the war into Brown.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

SOUND NUMBER 1132, AND WE'RE GOING TO TAKE THIRTY SEVEN.

Judge Robert Carter:

The build-up, the development of Brown started in the thirties. Charlie Houston, who was the chief counsel at the time for the NAACP, had the idea that the way to end segregation was to require all the Southern states to duplicate all the schools. In other words, grad—the graduate schools, law, medicine, journalism-and everything. There were all these segregated schools—were in the South but there were no graduate schools and what was happening was that the South would pay part of the tuition for Blacks to go outside the state. And what he did was, the first case that the NAACP brought was a case in Missouri called—I guess it doesn't matter what the name of the case was, but it was in Missouri, and it was against the Law School. A black had applied to the University of Missouri Law School and was turned down. And the case was brought and it went to the Supreme Court of the United States, and it reached there about 1937, I think. And the Court ruled that the Blacks could not be excluded from the University Law School unless the facilities provided for them were equal. The University of Missouri had no separate law school. And then from there was a case in there—was a period the war intervened and then the next. Thurgood Marshall came—had come on and they were involved in voting and the Texas primaries. And then the school came up again after the war, I think. Right after the war I came on the staff and the next case was one in a Law School. Case in Oklahoma, and a woman applied. Her name was Lois Sipewell, I believe, and she applied to go to the University of Oklahoma Law School, and they turned her down. And the Supreme Court—that went to the Supreme Court—the Supreme Court held that was discriminatory. She had to be admitted on the same basis as everyone else. The next case was in 19—in the 1950's I think. It was McLauren versus the Board of Regents. Another Oklahoma case, the first case that I argued in the Supreme Court, and in that case the—McLauren was admitted to the Graduate School. He had the same teachers, same books, and so forth, but he was required to sit in the classroom in a special seat, special table in the library, special table in the cafeteria. And the Court held that he was denied equal educational opportunities because of this this kind of separation. We said on that point, that at this point, that they can't, with that decision they have to hold that Brown is—they have to hold that segregation in the public schools are unequal. I should add that before that, in the same time that McLauren was decided, the case was decided in Texas in which the black[sic] had applied to the University of Texas, and the Supreme Court set a standard in that case that it wasn't the physical facilities, it was the intangibles that were—that were required to be equalized. And under those circumstances, they held that Texas had a separate school, Law School, but they held on the basis of the intangibles that there was no equality. So we thought that those two decisions—I think they were decided in 1950—laid the groundwork for Brown. And that's when we decided to launch an attack on public schools, public school segregation.

QUESTION 5
INTERVIEWER:

IT WAS A WHOLE, IN OTHER WORDS, THERE WAS A STRATEGY THAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT FOR TWENTY YEARS THAT WAS GRADUALLY WORKING WITH—WAS IT TARGETED ALWAYS TOWARD THE SUPREME COURT?

Judge Robert Carter:

Yes. Oh, yes. It was targeted. And it was targeted, always targeted towards the Supreme Court, because the point was to get a definitive decision on the constitutional law on the meaning of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the due process clause of the Fifth. And so it was—all of our cases were designed to go to the Supreme Court. And when I left the side—when I left the NAACP and went to private law firm, the difference was really amusing, because I'd get a case and I'm ready to get it ready for the Supreme Court. And these commercial cases, of course, what you want to do is have them settled. You don't want to have have a judge decide what they are, if it's possible. So you know that's the one thing you don't want to do, and you know that's the difference. We had—we were preparing every case we took, was its destination was the Supreme Court. It was the Supreme Court of the United States.

QUESTION 6
INTERVIEWER:

NOW WHY WOULD EDUCATION RATHER THAN PUBLIC FACILITIES? WAS IT EDUCATION BECAUSE IT WAS AN EMOTIONAL ISSUE?

Judge Robert Carter:

No, it wasn't. No, it was—it wasn't just—we went on public facilities, we brought cases before the Interstate Commerce Commission about segregation on trains, interstate transportation. We brought a case to the Supreme Court involving segregation of buses, Morgan versus Virginia, application of segre—of the Southern state laws to interstate commerce. I don't remember actually any case on hotels and things like that. I don't recall that. But it was really a broadside attack. We had started in the—in schools, and we were kind of concentrated on law because we thought that the judges would better understand what what we were trying to to show in in a Law School. But our attack really was broadside.

QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

NOW COMING TO THE BROWN CASE. WHY TOPEKA, KANSAS? WAS THIS A PARTICULARLY BAD SYSTEM?

Judge Robert Carter:

Well, no. Chance.

QUESTION 8
INTERVIEWER:

SORRY, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO—

Judge Robert Carter:

Topeka, Kansas and Clarendon County and all of the places we took broad cases were purely by chance. We had chapters, branches, in various parts of the country. In 1950, we announced to our membership that we were going to take the cases now making a direct assault on segregation. And what we took were when the various branches had said we want you to bring a case here, and so forth, that's what we did. So we went to Clarendon County first and then Topeka, Kansas, was our second. It was the second case and then there was a case in Wilmington, Delaware, and there was a case in Virginia. All of this came about by virtue and then the two cases in Washington, by virtue of the fact that we had active branches in that area. And they were able to get the people interested in bringing a case. We did—people think that we did this as sort of a scientific analysis. That wasn't true.[overlap] When we decided to make an attack on the segregation, per se—we, I think at least some of the people on our staff, and some of us decided that we we weren't going to put all our eggs in one basket. And what we did was to make the attack on segregation per se, that you couldn't possibly be equal utilizing the Supreme Court's analysis about the intangibles that were necessary for equality, using Charles Sumner's argument about, against segregation in the Boston public schools which he argued just after the Civil War indicating that there couldn't be any equality in a segregated society. And at the same time, we argued that the separate schools were not providing equal educational opportunities in terms of various—of the defects that they had. We utilized that argument all the way when we went to the Supreme Court, when all those cases—we abandoned the physical, the physical equality business. We took the case to the Supreme Court on the thesis that the physical facilities were equal, and said nonetheless, there is unequal education. And that's how the whole argument developed. But it was a—it was an argument. It was a strategy some of us felt we should abandon it,so we wouldn't get caught in this. And others more cautious felt that we had to carry the two, the two arguments, just in the event we lost one we would we would win the other.

QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

NOW IN THE BRIGGS CASE THERE IS A—I'M SORRY [unintelligible] IN THE BRIGGS CASE THERE IS AN ADDITIONAL PIECE OF EVIDENCE. THIS IS THE KENNETH CLARK EVIDENCE AND I WONDER IF YOU COULD TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHY YOU ASKED, WHY HE WAS ASKED TO GIVE EVIDENCE AND THE KIND OF CONTROVERSY, WHY HE WAS SUCH A SUPPORTER OF IT . [unintelligible].

Judge Robert Carter:

When we finished with Brown—not I'm sorry, with, when we finished with the case in one of the Supreme Court victories in 1950, with the Oklahoma case McLauren versus the University of Oklahoma, and Swett versus the University of Texas, which was the Law School case, we decided the time had come to attack the public school segregation. The problem was that in the Graduate School and in the Law School, we had an advantage in showing the teachers, the quality of the teachers the—what one could do, the offerings available, and so forth, and the prestige of the school. When we went to the public school, we had—that advantage was lost. And we were looking around for ways to find to convince the Court that these schools were unequal. And I had read a study—I'm sorry I think his name is Oppenheimer, but I can't recall his name—by a psychologist, who had made a study of Blacks coming into Philadelphia, and his—the import of this study was the longer they were there, the higher their educational, the higher they scored educationally. And that led me to think that maybe we could use this kind of psychological evidence. And I went to him and he said no, he didn't think he would be interested, but he pointed me to Kenneth Clark. And Kenneth and his wife had done a study of the impact of race on children with, by the use of dolls—and a white doll and a black doll—the which, which is the most beautiful, the best, and so forth. The Black child would always choose the white doll. And so I asked him would he be helpful, and he said yes. He got very interested in it, and became our advisor, testified in several cases as his wife did, tested some children in Clarendon County. And also got us a number of other people in the—psychologists, and psychiatrists, sociologists who committed themselves to the principle that segregation was an evil, and so forth. So that's how that came about.

QUESTION 10
INTERVIEWER:

THERE WAS A CONTROVERSY ABOUT USING IT, WAS THERE SOME FEAR?

Judge Robert Carter:

Well, the—there wasn't so much a contro—there was a controversy about using it, but it was among the arrogance of lawyers who felt that social science was not a hard science. It was soft and that all of this was just opinion, and so forth. So I had a great deal of difficulty with the lawyers who were sort of dismissing all this, this psychological and sociological information as being worthless. And fortunately, Thurgood was the boss, so Thurgood stood with us and we kept Kenneth in. But that's how it, that's how it happened there was, it—lawyers, a number of the lawyers didn't feel that this was worthwhile. They looked down on the social science[sic] as a science.

QUESTION 11
INTERVIEWER:

COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THURGOOD MARSHALL A LITTLE BIT AT THIS TIME? AS YOUR BOSS? WHAT WAS HE LIKE TO WORK FOR, WAS HE—

Judge Robert Carter:

He was very, he was very, you know, he was very easygoing and very supportive. He, what he did was to have a lot of us around him

QUESTION 12
INTERVIEWER:

YOU WERE DESCRIBING THURGOOD, MAYBE YOU COULD START WITH HIS NAME.

Judge Robert Carter:

Well, Thurgood Marshall was very good to work—work with, and he was very supportive. He's easy, happy go-lucky, easygoing person. And I was his sort of chief of staff, and what he allowed me to do was to argue, go into left field, and argue these things, and against people with the other lawyers around who on our committee, who might not agree, and invariably he'd choose to go in the more radical direction. So that's how it happened. I think what he was doing was getting these opinions and forcing those of us who wanted to attack segregation head on or do various other things to defend ourselves against the more conservative people who were supporting us, and well, from my point of view conservative, I don't know. And then he'd make the choice, and then—it was very, very good to work with him. And he would protect, he protected us from all the politics in the organization and we were free to—I was free, and the rest of us were free to present any kind of idea that we wanted as long as it—we thought it made sense. If it didn't make sense, he'd laugh you out of it, but you could, you were really free to present it. No fear about that. And the—you were fully protected from any repercussions from any of the ideas that you brought forward, or operate. It was very good working for him.

QUESTION 13
INTERVIEWER:

NOW, COULD YOU TALK ABOUT AT WHAT POINT YOU BEGAN TO THINK THIS MIGHT ACTUALLY BE IT, YOU MIGHT—WINNING FINALLY. WAS IT AFTER THE FIRST ARGUMENT, AFTER THE CHANGE IN CHIEF JUSTICES, AFTER THE SECOND ARGUMENT, EVER?

Judge Robert Carter:

Oh, I thought, quite frankly, I—there wasn't any question in my mind, I don't think in Thurgood's mind, that we had to win, couldn't possibly lose that case. We'd just come out of a war, and we were fighting for democracy. We were involved in foreign policy, and attacking societies that were keeping people deprived. We were fighting totalitarianism and so forth. And it seemed to me, or almost to all of us, that we couldn't lose. The issue was how big the victory was going to be. Was it going to be a narrow one or a big one? And that's how we, that's how we all looked at it.

QUESTION 14
INTERVIEWER:

WERE YOU SURPRISED WHEN YOU WON THE BIG VICTORY? THE UNANIMOUS DECISION?

Judge Robert Carter:

I don't think surprised. I think exhilarated, I suppose, is a better—is the term. Because I think we were, we felt actually that we had won the war but we hadn't, unfortunately. But our view was that if we had won that decision on—about segregation that we had licked the race problem. What we didn't realize then—that the real race problem is not in segregation itself, that segregation was a symptom of it—now what the real problem was white supremacy. And that until that was eliminated, you weren't going to have equality. But we didn't realize that in 1954. We thought that by doing this everything would be, would be over. We had been advised as a matter of fact to obey the law. I remember I was in the army and I used to have hard times with my superiors because I was really against the segregation, and they would tell me, well, you have to obey the law, and so you did. But when it—the shoe went to the other, other side, and there was a law that said segregation was was unconstitutional, you had a great deal of difficulty with the white in accepting that, and the obligations to obey the law. That was a—that was a disappointment.

QUESTION 15
INTERVIEWER:

DID YOU GO OUT AND [unintelligible] DID YOU GO OUT AND CELEBRATE? DID YOU GO OUT DRINKING, DID YOU MAKE MASSIVE SPEECHES TO EACH OTHER?

Judge Robert Carter:

There was a celebration. All of the lawyers involved in the case, but myself were in Washington when the case came down. Thurgood was there, [unintelligible] and the Washington staff, and several other people all were in the Supreme Court. I was in New York, so I didn't get my picture taken with all the other lawyers, but he called us. Thurgood called us and came back to New York, and we had a celebration at our headquarters, quite a big one. We called everyone in and we had quite a time.

QUESTION 16
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT EFFECT DO YOU THINK THAT THE DECISION HAD ON THE BLACK COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGICALLY? I MEAN YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT RESISTANCE. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE IMPACT WAS?

Judge Robert Carter:

Well, I think the, the impact on the black community was tremendous. I— the impact on the black community was very profound. It, not in terms of schools, because actually I think the statistics show that there are probably more blacks attending segregated schools, all black schools or nearly all black schools today than in 1954. That's because of the migration of blacks to the urban centers where there's concentration and segregated housing, and the schools follow out those patterns. But what the Brown's legacy I think is, that it transformed blacks from being accepting and subservient to being aggressive, demanding, militant. You—if you're told that you have a right to equal justice, and that you have a right to come into this courthouse, and that's your basic right, that you're not coming in here by virtue of the goodwill of somebody else, and they try to keep you out, you're going to fight. And so blacks began to demand their rights in the justice and justice. And that's why you found that this whole transformation from the image—from a sort of a docile, accepting group to a fiercely demanding group insisting on their rights. That's not going to change. Our view was that we were bringing the Supreme Court to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment in the way it was intended. And as a matter of fact, all of the cases that we had brought were designed to show that equal—equal rights, equal educational opportunity, and equal protection required an elimination of discrimination throughout and Fifteenth Amend—the Fifteenth Amendment as well as the Fourteenth Amendment. And the Court beginning in—when it started interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment to eliminate discrimination and the equal protection clause to require equal laws of people similarly situated, it did that on an individual basis. Gaines, for example, the first case that we brought from Missouri—he was entitled to attend the school immediately. Sipewell, the woman from Oklahoma Law School, was entitled to immediately enter the law school. What the court did in Brown was to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment on a group basis. It did not require, and this is the first time the court has made that interpretation, it did not require the immediate admission of these blacks into the school. It was "all deliberate speed." It was faced with what it felt was a problem of acceptance, and so this was what I guess we're going to call judicial statesmanship. But it did not, it was a departure from the traditional interpretation of the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, which is an individualized protection and in that way the court thought that it would, this great change would require less upheaval, but it didn't. It did not, and if it had done, had required immediate—the admission of Blacks and had not broken with its traditional analysis interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, I don't really think it would have made any difference as a practical matter. But it would have, I think it would have made, at least I talk for myself, it would have made me feel a little bit better that the court was not compromising a principle in order to to deal with a political problem. Because I think that whatever it did, there would be this resistance and, which I think continued for roughly about ten years until, you know, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and then it began to more and more to enforce, enforce the matter so that things calmed down, but you had to go through this sort of upheaval. I mean, the court was trying to avoid it, but it couldn't possibly do that.

QUESTION 17
INTERVIEWER:

COULD YOU TALK JUST ABOUT WHAT, WHAT I SEE IS CONSIDERED AS THE FIRST EXTENSION OF BROWN, THAT IS THE BROWDER CASE? DID YOU SEE THAT AS AN EXTENSION OF THE BROWN DECISION INTO OTHER AREAS IN EDUCATION? DID YOU SEE IT AS A CONNECTION, THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION DESEGREGATING THE MONTGOMERY BUSES—I'VE SEEN DESCRIBED AS THE FIRST TIME THEY TOOK THAT DECISION OF YOU CANNOT HAVE SEGREGATION IN SCHOOLS, AND SAID YOU CANNOT HAVE SEGREGATION IN SOME OTHER AREA.

Judge Robert Carter:

Well, the problem is that the court can't, couldn't do anything. It couldn't do otherwise. What had occurred was that the Montgomery boycott—after Brown there were segregated golf courses, buses and interstate commerce. No, I'm sorry, intrastate commerce, within the city limits. Segregation of interstate commerce had been abolished in 1948, 1950 by court decision. But intrastate commerce, within the state, had not. And when the Court handed down Brown vs. The Board of Education it had to apply that across the board, because what Brown meant was that segregation in American life was through, was finished. It was legally dead. That you couldn't have segregation any—in any of the other public reaches of American life. That's what Brown meant. It wasn't—they couldn't just apply it to the schools. It had to have an overall implication, and that's what, so that's what happened. So that when Browder, which had been tried before, came to the Supreme Court, and these cases—another case came from Baltimore—the Court near granted it so cherari(?) and then sent it back on the basis of Brown vs. The Board of Education. So that's the full meaning of Brown—is that segregation is dead legally in the United States. No law is valid that supports segregation as I think I told you, as I think I said, the Brown transformed blacks into militant—demanding their rights. And there was a, I think, roughly about a ten year period when everything was more or less quiet, only the law we were trying to mop up, and go into legal activities, and we had a lot in the South, where to do—where they were passing laws barring civil rights lawyers from and in effect being involved in litigation, charging them with barratry[?] and so forth and so on. And so those things were passed and then the effort was made in fact to outlaw the Association. The Association hadn't really been of much interest until Brown to people in the South. And then, I think it was unleashed in the marches and student protests and so forth that came in the sixties, and it seems to me that what's involved. Of course, the things that have to be done now is that there has to be more effort made on the economic front, which I think is the place where a great deal has to be done, and a great deal of effort has to be made. And there has to be a great deal of effort made also in—on the political level. We're in a period it seems to me now where things are very quiet, and as a matter of fact it—they're not quiet. They look like as if there's a regression during this whole period, but I am old enough to feel fairly sanguine. Historically, we have in America—there's been this movement back and forth, like a clock, and you go forward three steps and back two, and so it seems to me that that's what is occurring now, occurring now. That we are in a point of regression, but it'll be over, and we'll move forward.

QUESTION 18
INTERVIEWER:

AND AT THAT POINT OF 1965, DID YOU FEEL THAT THE CLOCK HAD GONE FORWARD OR [overlap] DID YOU SEE, DID YOU SEE THE TURMOIL OF THE 1960S?

Judge Robert Carter:

Oh, there was no question but that the 1965—with the Civil Rights Act that it had moved forward. Personally, for example, when I was going to law school and to college, I think I knew about every black who was in college or in law school, across the country. And this had been a sort of a small group that had not grown very much from, I guess roughly 1900. But with in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act that group of people have just expanded so far that no one black can possibly know, as I did in my era, every black in every college. If you're a college student—know every black in the country that's in college, nobody, or law school—no one can do that now. And so it meant a great deal that the middle class, black middle class expanded. White collar jobs expanded for them, and the blacks that were not middle class but pushing upward into the middle class expanded rapidly, and that group is shrinking now but it's not going to be completely eliminated.

QUESTION 19
INTERVIEWER:

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU THINK WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE BROWN CASES? ANY STORIES, ANY…?

Judge Robert Carter:

No, I—you have to, what you have to do with these things is you have to prod me for them because I can't [laughter] I'm difficult about bringing that up. OK.

QUESTION 20
INTERVIEWER:

WE NEED TO JUST TAKE, ONCE THE SIREN GOES BY, A LITTLE BIT OF ROOM AMBIENCE AND UN-MIC YOU BEFORE YOU CAN LEAVE.

Judge Robert Carter:

Oh, that's true, I was, I'm about to ruin his things here.

QUESTION 21
INTERVIEWER:

IF WE COULD JUST SIT VERY QUIETLY FOR A MOMENT, WE'LL JUST TAKE THE ROOM AMBIENCE.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

THIS IS ROOM TONE.

Judge Robert Carter:

What's a [unintelligible]?