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Law and Race Commons

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

Equality

2013

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Full-Text Articles in Law and Race

"Simple" Takes On The Supreme Court, Robert Tsai Dec 2012

"Simple" Takes On The Supreme Court, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This essay assesses black literature as a medium for working out popular understandings of America’s Constitution and laws. Starting in the 1940s, Langston Hughes’s fictional character, Jesse B. Semple, began appearing in the prominent black newspaper, the Chicago Defender. The figure affectionately known as “Simple” was undereducated, unsophisticated, and plain spoken - certainly to a fault according to prevailing standards of civility, race relations, and professional attainment. Butthese very traits, along with a gritty experience under Jim Crow, made him not only a sympathetic figure but also an armchair legal theorist. In a series of barroom conversations, Simple ably ...