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Elon Law Review publishes issue on civil rights lawyer Albion Tourgée

Volume 5, Issue 1 of the Elon Law Review examines the life, views and impacts of Albion Tourgée, the lead attorney for Homer Plessy in the historic United States Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).

Albion Tourgée

Articles in this issue of the Elon Law Review were developed from a 2011 conference held in Raleigh, NC, titled, "A Radical Notion of Democracy: Law, Race, and Albion Tourgée, 1865-1905." Major sponsors of that conference included: Elon University School of Law, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, University of North Carolina Center for the Study of the American South, and University of North Carolina School of Law.

Promotional material for that conference described Tourgée’s historical significance as follows:

“A lawyer, judge, novelist, and political activist, Tourgée worked openly for racial equality in the state for thirteen years. His North Carolina legacy lives on in the provisions of our Constitution guaranteeing a free public education, as well as other reforms. Later he achieved national fame for representing Homer Plessy in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the U.S. Supreme Court case that established separate-but-equal facilities as the foundation of de jure segregation.

“Tourgée’s contemporary relevance is especially evident in contemporary debates on education. The language from North Carolina’s present-day Constitution on which the landmark Leandro opinion rests can be traced directly back to language that Tourgée, the youngest member of the Constitutional Convention of 1868, helped to craft.

“As demonstrated by Tourgée’s advocacy for Homer Plessy, he continued to play a strong role in the African American freedom movement after he left North Carolina. On his death, the Niagara Movement honored Tourgée, along with William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, as one of its three “friends of freedom.”

“Though little remembered over the course of the 20th century, Tourgée is undergoing something of a renaissance today, thanks largely to the work of the scholars participating in this event. Audience members will gain an understanding of Tourgée’s important place within the struggles of several generations of African Americans for civil rights, both in North Carolina and in the nation at large. Such an understanding will provide helpful background to a wide range of contemporary policy debates.”

The following articles from Volume Five, Issue One of the Elon Law Review are available here.


Introduction: “A Radical Notion of Democracy: Law, Race, and Albion Tourgée, 1865-1905” By Sally Greene

“Reflections on Albion Tourgée’s 1896 View of the Supreme Court: A ‘consistent enemy of personal liberty and equal right’?” By Michael Kent Curtis, Judge Donald Smith Professor of Constitutional and Public Law, Wake Forest University School of Law

“The Past as Prologue: Albion Tourgée and the North Carolina Constitution” By The Hon. Robert N. Hunter, Jr., Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals

“The National Citizen’s Rights Association: Precursor of the NAACP” By Carolyn L. Karcher, Professor, Temple University

“The Legitimacy of Law in Literature: The Case of Albion W. Tourgée” By Brook Thomas

“Adaline and the Judge: An Ex-Slave Girl’s Journey with Albion W. Tourgée” By Naurice Frank Woods, Jr., Visiting Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro


“Tale of Two Andersons: Anderson v. South Carolina Election Commission and Anderson v. Celebrezze – An Examination of the Constitutionality of Section 8-13-1356 of the South Carolina Code of Laws Following the 2012 Primary Ballot Access Controversy” By John L. Warren III, Clerk to the Hon. John W. Kittredge, Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court


Philip Craft,
9/5/2013 12:35 PM