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Matthew J. Perry: The Man, His Times, and His Legacy chronicles the life and accomplishments of the attorney who led the struggle for desegregation in South Carolina, served as a primary legal advocate in the national civil rights movement, and became South Carolina's first African American U.S. District Court judge. In this volume, scholars of the civil rights era, fellow civil rights activists, jurists, attorneys, a goverr, and an award-winning photojournalist join together to produce a multilayered biography of Matthew J. Perry. Collectively they bring to light the remarkable achievements of a man well kwn in his home state but sometimes obscured on the national stage by the shadows of Thurgood Marshall, J. Waties Waring, and Charles Hamilton Houston. This volume tells the story of Perry's life, including his humble beginnings in Columbia, his service to the nation during wartime, his remarkable career as a creator of positive social change, and, finally, his achievements as a respected member of the federal judiciary. The contributors describe Perry's courage, skills as an orator, quick legal mind, and genteel nature. They set his story in the turbulent civil-rights-era South, revealing how broad social, historical, and legal issues affected Perry's life and shaped the trajectory of his activist and professional life. The volume underscores how Perry enabled his home state to escape from Jim Crow's clutches with much less turmoil than many of its neighbors. Published in concert with the dedication of the Matthew J. Perry, Jr. United States Courthouse in Columbia, South Carolina, this life story portrays an esteemed juror whose grace and resiliency led South Carolina into the twentieth century.
W. Lewis Burke is a professor of law at the University of South Carolina. He is the coeditor of At Freedom's Door (University of South Carolina Press, 2000), the story of African American leaders and lawyers during Reconstruction, and the author of many articles on legal history. Burke lives in Columbia. Belinda F. Gergel is the coauthor of In Pursuit of the Tree of Life: A History of the Early Jews of Columbia, South Carolina, and the Tree of Life Congregation and articles on local history in South Carolina. A former chair of the department of history and political science at Columbia College, she also resides in Columbia.