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PRAISE FOR "BEFORE THE MOVEMENT"

“…a deeply researched and counterintuitive history of how ordinary Black Americans used law in their everyday lives from the last decades of slavery to the 1970s. Penningroth reframes the conventional story of civil rights.”

“This stunning and iconoclastic book, grounded in extraordinary research, will transform how we see generations of Black families, churches, and property—and the law itself.”

KATE MASUR 
Pulitzer finalist & author of Until Justice Be Done  

“Penningroth is a tireless researcher and gifted storyteller who elevates Black Americans’ everyday legal struggles to their rightful and enduring place in our national story.”

MARTHA S. JONES

author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote and Insisted on Equality for All (Winner 2021 LA Times Book Prize for History)

“Dylan Penningroth’s new landmark book will forever alter the way we think about and write the legal history of the U.S. — an astonishing, decades’-long research effort. Not to be missed."

JOHN FABIAN WITT
 author of Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History (Pulitzer Finalist and winner 2013 Bancroft Prize)
 

“This deeply researched book completely rewrites the history of African Americans and their struggles with law from the close of slavery through the 1960s. . . . Their story had been a ‘hidden history’ until Penningroth’s painstaking efforts brought it to light, and their engagement with law has left us with multiple notions of what it means to fight for ‘civil rights.’ ”

KENNETH W. MACK

Biele Professor of Law, Harvard University and author of Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer 

“Black people grace these pages in what I’d consider the most masterful treatment yet written on the business of African American freedom. Dylan C. Penningroth challenges our tendency to limit Black struggles for justice to their pursuits of national belonging."

N. D. B. CONNOLLY
 Herbert Baxter Adams Associate Professor of History at Johns Hopkins 

"Dylan C. Penningroth’s pre-history of the Civil Rights Movement, which examines Black traditions of private law and “the rights of everyday use,” is the kind of work we need more of."

LITHUB'S MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2023

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