Julius Chambers

A Life in the Legal Struggle for Civil Rights

By Richard A. Rosen, Joseph Mosnier

408 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 8 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6930-4
    Published: February 2022
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2855-4
    Published: October 2016
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8139-7
    Published: October 2016

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Born in the hamlet of Mount Gilead, North Carolina, Julius Chambers (1936–2013) escaped the fetters of the Jim Crow South to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s as the nation’s leading African American civil rights attorney. Following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Chambers worked to advance the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s strategic litigation campaign for civil rights, ultimately winning landmark school and employment desegregation cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. Undaunted by the dynamiting of his home and the arson that destroyed the offices of his small integrated law practice, Chambers pushed federal civil rights law to its highwater mark.

In this biography, Richard A. Rosen and Joseph Mosnier connect the details of Chambers’s life to the wider struggle to secure racial equality through the development of modern civil rights law. Tracing his path from a dilapidated black elementary school to counsel’s lectern at the Supreme Court and beyond, they reveal Chambers’s singular influence on the evolution of federal civil rights law after 1964.

About the Authors

Richard A. Rosen is professor of law emeritus at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For more information about Richard A. Rosen, visit the Author Page.

Joseph Mosnier earned his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and now pursues his interest in social justice in the arena of global public health.
For more information about Joseph Mosnier, visit the Author Page.


"This first biography of Chambers captur[es] his personality, character, and self-effacing determination. . . . Though books on legal topics are hardly known for their readability, this one is an exception. More than a simple biography of a lawyer, this account chronicles an entire law firm and how civil rights are achieved in the real world. Verdict: Essential."--Library Journal, Starred Review

"An excellent resource for understanding how the civil rights struggle played out in less-heralded venues."--Publishers Weekly

“Rosen and Mosnier provide a painstakingly researched account of a civil rights lawyer and icon of the last quarter of the 20th century. Highly recommended.”--CHOICE

"A remarkable story well told. . . . [and] one that anyone interested in North Carolina history, and particularly the struggle for racial equality, should read."--Rob Christensen, News and Observer

"An enticing and readable biography of Chambers, and history of the law firm he led."--Cliff Bellamy, Durham Herald-Sun

“[This] carefully researched biography dives deep into the prominent litigator’s life and work, highlighting the battles he and his colleagues fought for racial justice both in and out of the courtroom and the impact of those actions on American civil rights. . . . Will inspire anyone who makes it their mission to improve the lives of those around them.”--Chapel Hill Magazine