Civil rights leader and legislator Lloyd A. Barbee frequently signed his correspondence with "Justice for All," a phrase that embodied his life’s work of fighting for equality and fairness. An attorney most remembered for the landmark case that desegregated Milwaukee Public Schools in 1972, Barbee stood up for justice throughout his career, from defending University of Wisconsin students who were expelled after pushing the school to offer black history courses, to representing a famous comedian who was arrested after stepping out of a line at a protest march. As the only African American in the Wisconsin legislature from 1965 to 1977, Barbee advocated for fair housing, criminal justice reform, equal employment opportunities, women’s rights, and access to quality education for all, as well as being an early advocate for gay rights and abortion access.
This collection features Barbee’s writings from the front lines of the civil rights movement, along with his reflections from later in life on the challenges of legislating as a minority, the logistics of coalition building, and the value of moving the needle on issues that would outlast him. Edited by his daughter, civil rights lawyer Daphne E. Barbee-Wooten, these documents are both a record of a significant period of conflict and progress, as well as a resource on issues that continue to be relevant to activists, lawmakers, and educators.
About the Author
Lloyd A. Barbee, 1925–2002, was a distinguished legislator, civil rights activist, and attorney. While serving as the only African American in the Wisconsin state assembly from 1965 to 1977, Barbee sponsored the Fair Housing Act, as well as bills related to employment rights, legalization of abortion, reparations to African Americans and Native Americans, and a requirement that multicultural history be taught in public schools. As an attorney, he won a landmark case that integrated Milwaukee Public Schools. After leaving the legislature, Barbee continued to practice law and taught in the Africology department at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
Daphne E. Barbee-Wooten is an attorney specializing in civil rights practicing in Honolulu, Hawaii. Previously she worked as a public defender and trial attorney and was the first senior trial attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Hawaii. In 2014, she received a lifetime achievement award from the Hawaii NAACP, and in 2016, she received the civil rights attorney of the year award from Sisters Empowering Hawaii.