In 1963, courts often addressed white witnesses by their honorifics but used black witnesses’ first names. When Mary Hamilton refused to answer questions until addressed by her surname, she was jailed for contempt of court. A year later, the Supreme Court vacated her conviction. Explore the story behind Alabama v. Hamilton and its broader significance within the struggle for racial equality.
Randall Kennedy is Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of forthcoming book From Protest to Law: Triumphs and Defeats of the Black Revolts, 1948–1968.
Presented in collaboration with the Center for Women’s History at the New-York Historical Society
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