Salon has an excellent interview with American law scholar Kenneth Mack on the way race and the law intersect and define each other. Here’s a quote on civil rights lawyers and their personal experience in the black community at the time.
What did you learn about the relationship between race and the law by writing it?
By looking at the civil rights struggle through the lives of black civil rights lawyers we learn about the contested nature of racial identity, even in an era where segregation was supposed to make race into something fixed, not fluid.
I think this speaks to how we think of race as an unchanging dynamic today even though it’s been in fluctuation since the concept was created. Also it works to disabuse people of the notion that there was an overwhelming consensus in the Civil Rights Era as it’s been properly defined when our heroes of yesteryear had many of the intra-community pressures and differences that people still hold today. The interview is great and I’d recommend folks to go read the whole thing.