W&L’s Judge Wisdom Subject of New Biography

wisdom_book“Champion of Civil Rights,” published this month by the LSU Press, is the first full-length biography of John Minor Wisdom, a 1925 graduate of Washington and Lee. Joel William Friedman, the Jack M. Gordon Professor of Procedural Law and Jurisdiction at Tulane University Law School, is the author of the book, which examines Wisdom’s impressive legal career. Judge Wisdom, who died in 1999, was a trustee at W&L (1957-75) and received an honorary degree in 1999. A native of New Orleans who received his law degree from Tulane, he practiced law for almost 30 years before being appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by President Eisenhower in 1957. His story illuminates some of the key moments in the Civil Rights Movement since he ruled on such critical cases as the admission of the first black student to the University of Mississippi and the initiation of contempt proceeding against Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett. Reviewing the book this week in the Times Picayune, Book Editor Susan Larsen concludes: “Readers of legal history will welcome this readable, accessible biography of an all-too-often overlooked figure.

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