Newly Available Online | Lawyers Who Went South


Intricately bound with Black grassroots, religious and civic organizations were Americans in the legal profession.

This newly available collection, Lawyers Who Went South, documents the experiences of lawyers who participated in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, with a particular focus on the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee. As a Columbia undergraduate Thomas Hilbink ’93, interviewed narrators about civil rights, civil liberties, activism, and the theoretical and practical aspects of pursuing social change in the legal system.

From the Wisconsin Historical Society’s 1964 Freedom Summer Project Collections,

Check out these primary and secondary sources for a deep dive into the collection’s interviews:

📄This paper by Hilbink using the interviews, “Filling the Void: The Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee and the 1964 Freedom Summer” (May 1, 1993).

📖 An article about Matthew van Meter ’16 and his book, Deep Delta Justice: A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and Their Groundbreaking Battle for Civil Rights in the South, which used some of Hilbink’s interviews.

👂🏾 Listen to the interviews or read the transcripts online via the Columbia University Libraries’ Digital Library Collection (no login required).

Oral history interview with Pierre Tonachel, 1993, part 2