Story by Ken Krayeske • 11:45 AM EST
This is what remained of Hitler's mansion, the massive living room with a window on the Bavarian Alps was reduced to a tourist attraction with the names of conquerors carved into the concrete.
Curiously, Jackson said "My schoolmates, of course, influenced me. They were mostly sturdy, clean fine young people and I had a close friendship with them." His description of his schoolmates does not specify race. It is probably fair to assume that if he did play with black children, he would have specified it.
Nor does the autobiography section about "Community Life and Ways" confront the issue of race. However, Jackson offers his interpretation of the Jamestown standard on poverty: "Everybody was expected to work. The only person who was not respected was the one who did not work." The working man or woman in the Jamestown of his youth had a hard life.
"It was really a democratic existence and a very individualistic one. Nobody asked favors except on the basis of repayment and there was a strong desire to avoid real poverty. Pauperism was regarded as sort of a moral judgment that one had wasted his opportunity." That statement begs the question: how would Jackson respond to the poverty of the post-reconstruction deep south, where racism worked to perpetuate the economic injustices of slavery on allegedly freed men?
Further in that paragraph, Jackson's exposition on his "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" theories did not touch on race. "To an unfortunate individual there was utmost kindness, but if one was a pauper that was probably his own fault. He either drank, or gambled, or was lazy, or something evil. Poverty, as such, attracted no sympathy and little help. The way of the poor was hard, but so was the way of the not poor."
Despite the arguments of sociological arguments about the impact if racism on black children (the famous black doll/white doll experiments by Kenneth Clark where black children chose the white doll over the black doll), it is hard to imagine that in Jackson's world "something evil" meant having black skin. While he did not dismiss Clark's experiments, he did not think they factored into equal protection analysis.
"I do not think that we can import into the concept of equal protection of the law psychological and subjective factors. I have no doubt that segregation has psychological consequences, but I know too that the woes of the colored child are by no means solved merely by forcing him into white company."
Jackson demonstrated empathy for the predicament of those suffering the brunt of racially-biased laws. But he also tried to justify the "whites-only" crowd. "While the prosegregation emotion may seem to us less rational than antisegregation emotion, we can hardly deny the existence of sincerity and passion of those who think that their blood, birth, and lineage are something worthy of protection by separatism."
Thirteen years prior to writing that, Jackson had his first major confrontation with race when he was Attorney General of the United States. On February 12, 1941, Jackson issued an order desegregating the whites-only District of Columbia Bar Association library housed in the Federal District Court Building in Washington, D.C. Pursuant to Section 60 of Title 18 of the United States Code, Jackson ordered that "such space and facilities shall be available to all members of the bar in good standing without discrimination on account of race, color, religion, or sex."
While Jackson was far behind the desegregation activists, he was ahead of the federal curve. His executive branch action to desegregate the District Court library is six months after activist Asa Randolph met with President Roosevelt to urge him to desegregate the armed forces and use the federal government to provide equal employment opportunities for blacks. But Jackson beat Roosevelt's Executive Order 8802 by four months.
Jackson had this opportunity to be the highest federal law enforcement official to throw the brakes on racist practices because in 1938, black lawyer Huver I. Brown filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Attorney General to open up the Library. Huver I. Brown argued the exclusionary policy violated his civil rights.
According to Prof. John Q. Barrett of the St. John's University School of Law, Department of Justice attorneys successfully had Huver I. Brown's lawsuit dismissed. But Brown sought an appeal, and Department of Justice lawyers wanted to negotiate with the Bar Association. Despite this background, in early 1941, the Bar Association voted to continue its exclusionary policies.
Prof. Barrett wrote: "Jackson, exercising his statutory power as the 'landlord' of the federal courthouse, decided to end the exclusion. On February 12, 1941 (the 132nd anniversary, of course, of Abraham Lincoln's birth), Attorney General Jackson announced that the Department of Justice would no longer defend the Brown lawsuit."
It might be easy to ascribe anti-racist sentiment to Jackson for his forward-thinking moves to desegregate the D.C. Bar Association Library. On closer inspection, this move could be interpreted as part of Jackson's long-running war with the American Bar Association and its affiliates.
Jackson's actions as the highest prosecutor and law enforcement officer in the land sting of rebuke to an organization that he actively loathed for years. After the witnessing the backward conservatism of the September 1936 ABA annual convention, Jackson, then the Solicitor General, participated in the founding of the National Lawyers Guild.
New York City lawyer Morris Ernst wrote Jackson seeking his support, inviting him to a planning dinner at Manhattan's City Club, 55 West 44th Street on Tuesday, December 1, 1936 at 7 P.M.
Ernst, who co-founded both Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst and the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote Jackson on November 12, 1936: "At the recent Boston convention, more than ever before, the American Bar Association manifested a stubborn partisanship to die-hard reaction, a uniform opposition and even
hostility to every resolution and suggestion of a forward looking and progressive character, from whatever source proposed."
Ernst recognized "[t]he need for obvious and urgent action ... for a national association of American lawyers which shall be a truly progressive force in the life of the nation." He had recently addressed 400 lawyers in New York and was now advancing to Jackson the same concept he put forth then: the American Lawyers Guild.