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Law and Social Change

Although notoriously slow and often intractable, African American history has consistently demonstrated that law and the judicial system can serve as a decisive force for procuring social change.  One False Step draws upon a wealth of case history and situates Muhammad Ali within the broader context of African American legal history.
At the same time, Texas Southern University’s law school served as a base of operations for several of the lawyers who worked on Muhammad Ali’s legal quest to obtain conscientious objector status during the latter stages of his case. These professionals had personal ties to Thurgood Marshall, another student of Charles H. Houston, who had been very vocal in his denunciation of the Nation of Islam during his tenure as chief legal counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  How did these individuals understand their personal loyalties and professional obligations?  Where did students attending law school at this and other institutions in the city fall on this issue?  Ultimately, these questions become essential to understanding how lawyers and other professionals can become social activists and agents for change.