Interview with William Coleman
QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

DO YOU THINK THAT MOST BLACK AMERICANS IN ‘53 HAD ANY SENSE OF WHAT MIGHT, OF WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN ULTIMATELY?

William Coleman:

I think that this really became a great uh… commitment of the black community. And in fact uh, I sometime think that history has been unfair because you… the Supreme Court great case is talked in terms of having a great Chief Justice, Earl Warren, which is true. It's talked in terms of the fact that the uh, Solicitor General of the United States, who happened to be white, argued the case and took a position uh, consistent with what we were arguing, namely that segregation was unconstitutional. But history completely forgets uh other than they do mention, uh Justice Marshall as being the lawyer that argued the case. But history really forgets the extent to which the entire black community made a commitment to bring the Brown case cost in excess of a million dollars. And I'm not talking about in terms of lawyers getting paid. I'm talking about…

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

OK, OK, THAT WAS CAMERA RUN OUT ABOUT NINTEY SECONDS AGO. WE'RE GOING TO CAMERA ROLL 2, I'M STILL ON SOUND ROLL 1.

William Coleman:

To bring the Brown case to a successful conclusion cost in excess, in excess of a million dollars. And not a penny of that was paid to any lawyer for a fee. Every lawyer worked for nothing. But the cost of printing the brief, getting expert witnesses, traveling throughout the courts, uh… uh writing the brief, having two hundred scholars come together to spend four or five days at a time at some hotel, either in New York, Washington, or at the great Howard uh, Law School. Uh, that cost that amount of money. And the entire black community contributed. Almost every black church that had a responsible minister would often have collections on Sunday and that money would be forwarded to the NACP, NAACP, or the Legal Defense Fund. Uh, there were prayers. There were anything that was needed. Uh, Thurgood Marshall could make a call anyplace to a black scholar. Uh, he… if he, if he knew what he was talking about, he'd give him his answer. If he didn't he'd get other people that gave the answer. I've seen very few commitments where a group of people helped by… uh, committed uh persons who were not black, but nevertheless were committed, who pitched together, to gave their time and their talent freely, to bring about a successful uh, result in this case.