Interview with William Coleman


William Coleman:

Well, at the time I was uh, I had finished uh, a clerkship with Justice Frankfurter and then I went to New York and I was in a Wall Street law firm, called Paul Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton and Garrison. Uh, I had met Thurgood Marshall, uh T guess uh, well my family had known him all his life, in fact my mother says that she was present at the time he was born. Now, uh, I guess that's a true history though in history people tend to all somehow get involved in the event but I knew the, I knew that she knew the Marshall family quite well. And he picked up the phone one day and asked me would I come over to the Legal Defense Fund to help them, uh, in this litigation. I said I certainly would, and so I guess from 1951 or '52, until the cases were finished in 1955, I spent a lot of time on a volunteer basis, I never got paid and I didn't want to get paid because I got paid, not in cash but in something very much more valuable than cash. Uh, mainly to be involved in what I thought was a great historical movement—meeting a lot of good people. And I would say that from that time on, that you know, we spent a lot of time working this case. Other people, there were, there were some very able lawyers at the Legal Defense Fund that probably were not more than seven, but I know Bob Carter, who is how a federal district judge, Connie Motley, who is now a federal district judge, Jack Greenberg, uh and a few others were working but then we… began to call on other people, uh, some very able black lawyers uh, who…