We Face the Dawn: Oliver Hill, Spottswood Robinson, and the Legal Team That Dismantled Jim Crow

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$29.95  $27.85
University of Virginia Press
Publish Date
7.07 X 9.11 X 1.21 inches | 1.54 pounds

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About the Author

Margaret Edds, a journalist, is the author of Finding Sara: A Daughter's Journey and An Expendable Man: The Near Execution of Earl Washington, Jr. among other books.


The story of Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson--and all they did to change Virginia and America--needed telling, and Margaret Edds has done a masterful job. I knew both men and was honored as Governor to unveil a civil rights memorial at our Capitol with their likenesses prominently displayed. Hill and Robinson and their many dedicated colleagues loved Virginia and spent their entire lives turning the Commonwealth from past to future. This book is an appropriate tribute to their efforts.

--Senator Tim Kaine

The product of prodigious research, We Face the Dawn tells the terrifically important story of a largely unheralded subject. Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson lie just outside the pantheon of much-studied NAACP lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall, Charles Houston, and William Hastie. Yet these two lawyers were key figures in the legal arm of the movement, and they practiced in an equally key state, Virginia. Edds has done a painstaking piece of research in unearthing their lives and careers, and her book communicates the rich details of those lives and much of their importance.

--Kenneth W. Mack, Harvard Law School, is the author of Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer

A thoughtful historical account of a legal campaign that formed one of the main pillars for Brown v. Board of Education.... Hill and Robinson provide exemplary--and timely--models of citizenship. A welcome contribution to the literature of the civil rights movement.

--Kirkus Reviews

The reader is presented with vibrant portrayals of Roanoke, Richmond and Washington from the perspective of successful African-American entrepreneurs, lawyers and other professionals and their business, social and religious lives in a community of neighborhoods. We Face the Dawn is a welcome addition to the story of how an oppressed segment of American citizens were able to build success for themselves and others.

--The Roanoke Times

A legal thriller of the non-fiction variety... A thorough, compelling profile of the courage and diligence of the two men and their associates.

--Virginia Lawyer Magazine

With unobtrusive eloquence and reserved passion, Edds depicts an era during which much was accomplished and reminds us that much remains to be realized....Vivid and vital, We Face the Dawn lays out the lessons of the past, warns of the dangers of the present and illuminates the times of two stalwart men and the splendor of their achievements.

--Richmond Times-Dispatch

In We Face the Dawn, veteran political reporter Margaret Edds skillfully places Hill and Robinson within the historical, social and political context of Virginia and the nation in the early to mid-20th century.... [Edds offers] a well-written story about the lives of two important Virginians and the efforts by them and their legal team to advance the cause of freedom.


This story of "the South's most significant grassroots legal team" focuses on Virginians Oliver Hilland Spottswood Robinson, who initiated and argued one of the cases that combined into thelandmarkBrown v. Board of Education, but whose influence extends far beyond. Eddsfinds thatHill and Robinson's work served as a model for southern states and an essential underpinning forBrown.Following attempts to disbar the two lawyers and discredit the NAACP, they successfullycarried thefight to the US Supreme Court.

--Law & Social Inquiry

In We Face the Dawn: Oliver Hill, Spottswood Robinson, and the Legal Team That Dismantled Jim Crow, journalist Margaret Edds tells the story of the heroic and painstaking work that led to Brown, through the lives of two lesser-known legal giants. Black attorneys Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson dedicated their lives to dismantling Jim Crow. But as Edds shows, nothing was a foregone conclusion....Edds masterfully marshals evidence from newspapers, court documents, NAACP papers, and interviews with surviving family and friends to tell the biographies of these men....[T]his book is a well-written, thorough account of two important Virginians, and readers will find much to connect with current political times.

--Lauren Pearlman, University of Florida "The Journal of Southern History "

In We Face the Dawn the retired journalist Margaret Edds provides an insightful and captivating account of the lives and legal work of Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (naacp) attorneys from Virginia.... Edds's dual biography offers scholars and the general public a highly readable yet detailed examination of the important legal duo.

--The Journal of American History