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    • Exploring African Americans' history with law before the civil rights movementAfrican Americans have long used the law as a tool to assert their rights and shape their communities, a history often overlooked in traditional narratives of the civil rights movement

      Learning from this conversation with Dylan Penningroth is that African Americans have been using the law as a tool for centuries, long before the civil rights movement began. His book, "Before the Movement," explores this history by looking at how African Americans engaged with law in their daily lives, often in local courts, and how race functioned in these legal contexts, even when it wasn't explicitly mentioned. This perspective adds depth to our understanding of black history and challenges the common narrative that focuses solely on the oppressive role of law in African American experiences. By examining cases that aren't necessarily about race, Penningroth reveals how African Americans used the law to assert their rights and shape their communities, making "Before the Movement" a valuable contribution to the study of black history and the history of the civil rights movement.

    • County Courts' Role in Black History goes beyond SegregationCounty courts were instrumental in various aspects of black life, including land ownership, marriage and divorce, and business transactions, often overlooked in the dominant narrative of Black history as a long freedom struggle.

      The use of county courts by black people in history extends beyond the fight for segregation. These courts played a crucial role in facilitating various aspects of black life, including land ownership, marriage and divorce, and business transactions. This story has not been widely told due to the dominant narrative of Black history as a long freedom struggle. Researching at county court houses instead of focusing on the Supreme Court offers a more personal perspective, highlighting the everyday experiences and struggles of individuals. This approach reveals the importance of local records in understanding the complexities of historical events.

    • Unearthing hidden interactions between enslaved Africans and the legal systemThrough painstaking research, over 1500 cases of African Americans as plaintiffs were uncovered, revealing their active participation in the legal system despite unequal rights.

      Despite being enslaved, some African Americans were able to interact with the local legal system in unexpected ways. My great great great uncle Jackson Holcomb, who was enslaved, owned a boat and ferried Confederate soldiers, and was paid for his services. This raises questions about the nature of slavery and rights. Researching this phenomenon required visiting numerous county courthouses to access records, which was a time-consuming process. Once these records were obtained, they provided valuable insights, revealing that African Americans were active participants in the legal system, albeit unequally. Through this research, over 1500 cases involving African Americans as plaintiffs were identified. The slow and laborious research process was worth it, as it led to the discovery of personal stories and testimonies that added depth to history.

    • The complex relationship between slaves and the lawSlaves had limited rights under the law but still participated in legal systems, challenging the assumption that emancipation was a radical break with the past.

      The relationship between slaves and the law was more complex than often assumed. Slaves did not exist outside the law despite having no formal rights. They participated in a network of shared understandings and symbolic acts, which included owning property and making agreements. This continuity from slavery to freedom is important to understand because it challenges the notion that emancipation was a radical break with the past. In fact, many states recognized slaves as having basic rights like property, contract, and the right to sue and be sued even before the Civil Rights Act of 1866. This recognition did not undermine white supremacy as it did not threaten white people's domination of the economy. Therefore, the story of African American history as a journey toward full citizenship may need to be reevaluated, as many of the opportunities and disabilities of slavery carried over into freedom.

    • Power dynamics shift in post-slavery societyRecognition of African Americans as citizens brought about new power structures, with men holding more power over women within the Black community, complicating inequalities

      The end of slavery and the beginning of sharecropping brought about a reorganization of power, with white men at the top and black men above black women within this new system. This shift was facilitated by the recognition of African Americans as citizens, which granted them certain rights but also imposed duties. One such right was the ability to make and end marriages, which black women sometimes used to challenge their husbands' property rights over them and their children. These power dynamics were not always straightforward and led to complex inequalities within the Black community.

    • Peace of mind and synchronization with team work on one platform, Lume's long-lasting deodorant, and the end of slavery's impact on black communitiesUsing Monday.com for team work brings harmony and progress, Lume deodorant ensures long-lasting freshness, and the end of slavery led to the creation of independent black churches

      Having all work on one platform, like Monday.com, provides peace of mind and synchronization for teams, allowing seamless progress even when team members are away. Meanwhile, Lume whole body deodorant, powered by mandelic acid, offers 72-hour odor control and is free from heavy perfumes, ensuring confidence and freshness. Additionally, the end of slavery marked a significant turning point for black communities, leading to the founding of independent black churches, which represented a shift in power dynamics and symbolized a new sense of independence and ownership.

    • Discrimination against African American women in churches during ReconstructionAfrican American women, who were church leaders and members, faced discrimination and lacked rights within their churches, leading to lawsuits over property and minister selection.

      During the Reconstruction period, African American women, who were the majority of church members, often faced discrimination and lacked rights within their patriarchal churches. This led to women suing their leaders to gain control over church property and the right to choose their ministers. Meanwhile, the striving and labor during this time were primarily driven by the organization and importance of the black family. A notable example is the story of Henrietta Jefferson and Eliza Brown, where Henrietta took care of Eliza in her old age and was rewarded with a deed to her property, only to face a lawsuit from Eliza's biological niece. Despite the challenges, Henrietta's lawsuit ultimately succeeded, highlighting the difficulties African Americans faced in dealing with old age and sickness without state or family support.

    • The complex history of race in the legal systemCritical race theory reveals how progress for racial minorities has depended on benefiting white people, and race was often unmentioned in legal records despite its presence

      The legal system's treatment of race has been complex and nuanced throughout American history. The story of the court case between Stewart and Jefferson highlights how race was often unmentioned in legal records, yet its presence was undeniable. This omission of race in records reflects America's history of being opportunistic in discussing race, rather than color-blind. Critical race theory, a set of tools for analyzing the law's relationship with race, helps us understand how progress for racial minorities has often depended on it benefiting white people as well. For instance, slaves were allowed to own boats because it benefited their masters. Similarly, African Americans gained civil rights after the Civil War due to the need for their labor. Thurgood Marshall, a key figure in civil rights law, played a crucial role in this progress. Overall, critical race theory provides valuable insights into the historical and ongoing role of race in the legal system.

    • Marshall's Practical Legal RootsThurgood Marshall, despite handling landmark civil rights cases, never lost sight of his practical legal roots and used them to challenge deeply entrenched racial discrimination

      Thurgood Marshall, before becoming a civil rights icon, started his career as a working lawyer handling "bread and butter" cases. During this time, the meaning of civil rights was evolving from property and contract law to an almost sacred concept related to racial discrimination. While Marshall was litigating landmark cases like Brown v Board of Education, civil rights was gaining a religious quality, which led to a perception that ordinary black people were disconnected from the law. However, Marshall never lost sight of his practical legal roots. In a famous interview, he explained that he introduced psychological evidence in Brown v Board of Education as if it were a personal injury case, acting like a crass personal injury lawyer. This approach may have seemed controversial, but Marshall saw it as a way to argue for damages for Linda Brown's injury caused by segregation. This insight shows Marshall's unique perspective in using practical lawyering skills to challenge deeply entrenched racial discrimination.

    • The Complexity of the Rule of Law and Caring for Loved OnesThe rule of law has a rich history in African American communities, but it's essential to recognize its complexities. Meanwhile, caring for our loved ones, whether it's our pets or mothers, is a universal value.

      The rule of law is a complex and multifaceted concept that has played a significant role in African American history. As discussed, African Americans have long used and engaged with the law, despite its historical oppressive nature. The faith in the rule of law among black people during the civil rights movement can be attributed to their previous experiences and understanding of law. However, it's essential to recognize that the law is not a monolith, and it can both enable and challenge different power structures. Meanwhile, in a lighter vein, the discussion also highlighted the importance of caring for our loved ones, whether it's our furry companions or our mothers. Daniel introduced Pretty Litter, a health monitoring litter that helps detect early signs of illness in cats, emphasizing the value of taking care of our pets' health. Paige from Giggly Squad introduced Quince, a brand that offers high-quality fashion at affordable prices, encouraging us to treat our mothers to luxury this Mother's Day. And 1 800 Flowers offered a solution for sending thoughtful and affordable Mother's Day gifts. Overall, the conversation emphasized the importance of recognizing the complexity of the rule of law and the significance of caring for our loved ones.

    • Law's Complex Role in African American ExperienceDuring the civil rights movement, black people utilized the law for progress but faced challenges through legalized discrimination. Understanding law's everyday impact is crucial for creating positive change.

      Law played a complex role in the African American experience, driving both progress and exploitation. This was evident during the civil rights movement, as black people utilized the law to demand equal rights, but also faced challenges through sharecropping and other forms of legalized discrimination. Another takeaway is the importance of understanding the everyday impact of law on our lives beyond the Supreme Court. Dylan Pennyworth's book "Before the Movement" provides valuable insights into this complex relationship between law and the African American community. It's a reminder that law shapes our world in profound ways, and our engagement with it is essential for creating positive change. So, if you're interested in gaining a deeper understanding of this topic, be sure to check out Pennyworth's book or support independent bookstores by ordering from bookshop.org. And don't forget to subscribe, leave a review, or share this episode on social media to help spread the word.

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