William T. Coleman Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Wiley A. Branton


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Image: NAACP Attorneys In Integration Case. Original caption: 8/28/1958 - Washington, D.C.: Attorneys for the NAACP are shown. Left to right: William T. Coleman Jr., New York; Thurgood Marshall, Chief Counsel; and Wiley A. Branton, Pine Bluffs, Arkansas. They are due to present arguments before a special session of the Supreme Court in the Little Rock school integration case. Copyright: Bettmann/Corbis.

Image of Branton in classroom is courtesy of Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives.

Audio courtesy of the University of Kentucky.

Wiley Branton

Mar. 17, 1964
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Wiley Branton
Wiley Branton Bio

Wiley A. Branton (1923-1988) was a lawyer and civil rights activist. With Thurgood Marshall, Branton served as counsel to the “Little Rock Nine,” the group of African American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957, when school board members and the Superintendent of Schools sued to suspend the school district’s integration plan. Later, Branton directed the Voter Education Project in Atlanta, where, under his leadership, more than 600,000 black voters registered to vote between 1962 and 1965. Branton was named dean of Howard University’s School of Law in 1977.

Image courtesy of Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives.



Branton discusses school desegregation in Washington, D.C., as well as in other cities. He discusses the groups that civil rights activists targeted when choosing their protest and demonstration methods, and he also weighs the short-term and long-term effects of a handful of these demonstrations. In particular, he asserts that protests in Birmingham led to President Kennedy's advancing of civil rights legislation. Branton also considers whether new persons were then emerging as leaders of the civil rights movement as well as whether civil rights leaders were adopting new tactics. Branton opines that the Civil War resulted from economic and political differences between the North and the South, with slavery constituting a less central issue in the conflict than some believe.


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