Few people know just how much lawyers and judges shaped and sustained the success of the American civil rights movement, and in our first season we rediscover their untold legal stories. The stories of how they issued and advanced the call to establish justice. How they pried loose the meaning of equal protection of the laws. And how they forged into existence a more perfect union. The concentrated efforts of these legal figures - men and women, black and white - have remained uncelebrated and hidden too long.   This podcast brings their role into plain view. We invite you to join us each Tuesday as some of the nation's foremost experts in law and history explore the heroic and vital contributions lawyers and judges made, explain what that role meant to the nation then, and examine what it means for us today.

See our full schedule below and enjoy Hidden Legal Figures on your favorite listening app!

About the First Season

Our inaugural season - beginning October 8, 2019 through June 2020 - will introduce listeners to the legal efforts associated with some of the more familiar aspects of the civil rights movement, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the sit-ins. The remainder of the season will present more in-depth reflections on other lesser known, but equally important moments of the era.

Episode Highlights

Four monthly episodes released each Tuesday | Informative expert guests | Distinct listener interactive segment | Legal figures like Donald Lee Hollowell, Griffin Bell, William Augustus Bootle, Constance Baker Motley, James Weldon Johnson – and many more.

Live Episodes

Southern Conference of Bar Presidents – October 11, 2019 | National Center for Civil and Human Rights – February 19, 2020

Guess who?

Wondering who the voices were at the beginning of our theme? Click to find out!


Introducing Hidden Legal Figures

Why a podcast about lawyers? | October 8, 2019

Episode I - Way Down South | Prelude: October 15, 2019 | Full-episode: October 15, 2019

Throughout the 1950's and 1960's, the American south was a cauldron of conflict. The civil rights movement was in its prime and the legal efforts to protect rights were front and center. This episode of Hidden Legal Figures is adapted from our educational program that was a part of the annual meeting of the Southern Conference of Bar Presidents in Atlanta, Georgia.

Episode II and III - Brown v. Board of Education Series | Prelude: October 22, 2019 | Part 1 - Goodbye to Separate-but-Equal: October 29, 2019 | Part 2 - In Deliberate Speed: November 5, 2019

Brown v. Board of Education is perhaps the best-known lawsuit from the civil rights era. But how it started - and what it really meant - remains a mystery to this day. In Part 1, Goodbye to Separate-but-Equal, legal historian and attorney Charles S. Johnson, III breaks down the beginnings of the four cases that were a part of the Brown decision and talks about all the lawyers who were involved in that historic decision, and he returns in Part 2, In Deliberate Speed, to discuss what happened when the cases made it to the Supreme Court and how Brown II continues to shape the landscape of higher education.

Episode IV - The Back of the Bus takes a Front Seat | Prelude: November 12, 2019 | Full episode: November 19, 2019

The Montgomery Bus Boycott makes the nation come face-to-face with the rottenness of segregation and the Jim Crow south. For 380 days, black citizens of Montgomery, Alabama refused to ride the city buses. But is was a decision by the federal courts that gave them ultimate victory. Fred Grey, the lead attorney in the case Browder v. Gayle reflects on the legal efforts associated with the effort that launched Martin Luther King, Jr. to national prominence.

Episode V - May I Take Your Order? | Prelude: December 3, 2019 | Full-episode: December 10, 2019

As the Civil Rights Movement began to intensify, students all across the south staged lunch counter sit-ins. From Greensboro, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia lawyers aided them in their quest for justice. Chicago-Kent University College of Law Professor Christopher Schmidt, author of The Sit-Ins: Protest and Legal Change in the Civil Rights Era captures this iconic moment from the perspective of a legal historian.

Episode VI - Black to School | Prelude: December 17, 2019 | Full Episode: December 17, 2019

In 1961, the fate of the nation's oldest public institution of higher learning hung in the balance. It would be up to one federal judge to rule on the question of equality in education. Mercer University Law Professor Pat Longon joins us to reflect on the life and career of Judge William Augustus Bootle and the case that desegregated the University of Georgia.

Episode VII - They Called Him Mr. Civil Rights | Prelude: February 4, 2020 | Full episode: February 11, 2020

Donald Lee Hollowell was the one lawyer that Georgians would call on when their rights were being threatened. From his first case in 1952 all the way through his retirement in the early 90’s Hollowell’s name was synonymous with civil rights. The cases he handled are detailed by professor Maurice Daniels, author of Saving the Soul of Georgia: Donald L. Hollowell and the Struggle for Civil Rights and his enduring legacy is discussed by veteran civil rights leader, Rev. Otis Moss, Jr.


Episode IX - Lady Justice | Prelude: March 3, 2020 | Full episode: March 10, 2020

Constance Baker Motley was one of the most important civil rights lawyers of the twentieth century. Tapped by Thurgood Marshall early in 1945 to join the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, she was involved in more than 200 cases as either lead counsel or during the appeal of a case. In 1966, she became the first African American woman to be appointed as a federal judge. Joel Motley, III, Judge Motley’s son and producer of the multi-award-winning documentary, The Trials of Constance Baker Motley joins us to pay homage to this remarkable figure.

Noah Parden Series
Prelude: March 17, 2020 | Episode X (pt. 1) - Jailhouse Rock: March 24, 2020 | Episode XI (pt. 2) - A Lawyer's Appeal: April 7, 2020 | Episode XII (pt. 3) - Order in the Court : April 14, 2020

In this three-part series, Mark Curriden, author of the ABA award winning Contempt of Court: The Turn of the Century Lynching that Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism, is our special guest to discuss a case that both shook and shaped the legal profession at its core.

Part 1 - In 1906 Ed Johnson was falsely accused of rape in Tennessee. In the dizzying span of just 56 days, he was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed. Curriden recounts the incident that led to the trial and how the sheriff gave cover to a lynch mob set on vengeance.

Part 2 - Noah Parden, an African American lawyer, takes over the Ed Johnson case and appeals his conviction to the United States Supreme Court. But before Parden can make it back to Tennessee after briefing Associate Justice John Harlan, Ed Johnson is taken from the jail and lynched. Mark Curriden returns to show us just how this miscarriage of justice unfolded.

Part 3 - What happens when an order of the United States Supreme Court is defied? And what if the defying party is a law enforcement officer? In the final part of this series, Mark Curriden reveals how the Ed Johnson case led to the Supreme Court holding a sheriff in contempt and how it laid the groundwork for some of the most significant constitutional decisions affecting the rights of persons accused of crimes.

Episode XIII - A Legal Renaissance | Prelude: May 5, 2020 | Full-episode: May 12, 2020

James Weldon Johnson is best known as the composer to Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing – popularly called the Negro National Anthem, but he was also a lawyer. As the first African American Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Johnson created the framework for what would become the Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Episode XIV - For Whom the Bell Tolls | Prelude: May 19, 2020 | Full episode: May 26, 2020

He was a son of the old south but emerged as a father of its new frontier. As a lawyer, judge, and United States Attorney General, Griffin Bell occupied a unique vantage point in the unfolding events that demanded legal redress. A special guest shines a light on this towering figure.

Episode XV - A View from the Mountaintop | Prelude: June 2, 2020 | Full episode: June 9, 2020

On April 4, 1968, six lawyers came to the aid of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a Federal District Court in Memphis, Tennessee. W. J. Michael “Mike” Cody - one of the lawyers - joins us to share his remembrances of the untold legal efforts that were a big part of that fateful day.

Season Wrap-up | Season 2 Preview


October 11, 2019


FEBRUARY 19, 2020

Ticket information for this special event coming January 10, 2020

Derrick Alexander Pope, J.D., Host and Executive Producer

Terrass "Razz" Misher, Producer

Mia Mance, Social Media and Communications

Theme Music "Coffee Shop" and other music by PYC | PYC Music

Hidden Legal Figures: The Podcast is sponsored in part by a grant from The Georgia Bar Foundation and the Atlanta office of JonesDay.





Additional Support from:

Hon. Roy Barnes | The Law Office of Saundra M. Davis | Judge Athena Malloy Groves and Jason Groves, Esq. | Roy B. Robinson, III | Lisa West and The West Firm  | John F. Wymer, III, Esq.


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HOWARD MOORE, Civil Rights Lawyer

"Hidden Legal Figures keeps the past from being just that; a neglected and little understood legacy, but fuel in the continuing struggle for justice and equality. It will inspire many in ways we never imagine."

Teri T., Stone Mountain, Georgia

I absolutely love the podcast! Not only informative but it captivates and inspires. Very well done, my dear friend!

Tarsheen P., Atlanta, Georgia

This is awesome what you are bringing to light!

Rev. William Frazier, Atlanta, Georgia

Amen. The need is great!

How many of these legal figures can you name?