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Ernest Goodman Papers

 Collection
Identifier: UP001152
Part I: The papers of Mr. Goodman reflect his activities as counsel during three of his most important cases concerning civil rights and constitutional law: The Michigan Smith Act trial, the Sherrill School desegregation case, and the Black Panther trial.

Important subjects covered in the collection are: Black Panther Party Constitutional Law Civil Rights Detroit Public Schools Desegregation Communist Party Smith Act

Among the important correspondents are: Bushell, George Johnson, David Crockett, George Kaess, Fred W. Garner, Thelma Picard, Frank A. Hall, Elliot S. Wellman, Saul

Series Description: Series I, The Smith Act Trial, 1952-1958: All material is concerned with Mr. Goodman's activities as defense counsel during the trial of six Michigan residents charged with conspiracy to teach and advocate violent overthrow of the government or violation of the Smith Act. Subseries A: Trial Records, 1952-1958, Court records for the trial, the appeal, the reconsideration, and the final dismissal.

Subseries B: Research Materials, 1952-1958, Research sources, notes, and memorandums for the preparation and conduct of the defense.

Subseries C: Correspondence, 1953-1958, Correspondence relating to the Smith Act trial

Subseries D: Published Materials, 1952-1956, Leaflets, newsclippings, newsletters, pamphlets and other publications relating to the trial and the Smith Act.

Series II, The Sherrill School Case, 1962-1968: All material is concerned with Mr. Goodman's activities as counsel for the the Sherrill School Parent's Committee during their civil action which charged the Detroit Board of Education with de facto segregation.

Subseries A: Trial Records, 1962-1968, Court records and related documents for the pre-trial, the Amicus Curiae, and the dismissal.

Subseries B: Research, 1962-1970, Research sources, notes, and related materials for the preparation and conduct of the pre-trial.

Subseries C: Correspondence, 1961-1968, Correspondence relating to the Sherrill School case

Subseries D: Published Materials, 1962-1968, Leaflets, newsletters, pamphlets, and other publications relating to the Sherrill School case.

Series III, The Black Panther Trial, 1970-1977: All material is concerned with Mr. Goodman's activities as defense counsel for fifteen members of the Black Panther Party charged with murder and conspiracy to murder a Detroit Police officer.

Subseries A: Trial Records, 1970-1972, Court records and related documents for 1the trial and appeals.

Subseries B: Research, 1970-1972, Research sources, memorandums, notes, and other material for the preparation and the conduct of the defense.

Subseries C: Correspondence, 1970-1977, Correspondence relating to the Black Panther Trial.

Subseries D: Published Materials, 1970- 1971, Leaflets, newsclippings, pamphlets, and publications, relating to the trial and desegregation.
Part II: Part two of Mr. Goodman’s papers reflect his activities as council in controversial cases, particularly first amendment and civil rights cases, court martials, deportation and denaturalization, and the 1971 Attica prison uprising. His personal and professional associations, which influenced a career spent seeking social justice, are included in Series VI. Series VII: Subject Files reflect the people, places, and events that not only influenced Goodman, but also prompted him to seek change in our society.

Important Subjects: Civil Rights – America – Cases Communist Party of America Constitutional Law Deportation – United States McCarthyism – 1950-1960 Prison Riots – New York (State) – Attica Trials (Military Offenses) Trials (Obscenity)

Important Names: Crockett, George Eden, Mort Gleicher, Morris Nowak, Stanley Robb, Dean Stroble, Bernard “Shango” Sugar, Maurice Wellman, Saul Wolfgang, Myra Young, Coleman A.

Series Description: Series IV: Bernard “Shango” Stroble and the Attica Uprising Bernard “Shango” Stroble fled to New York in 1966 to avoid charges of robbery/murder and the shooting of policemen in Michigan. While in New York City, he was arrested on unrelated charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery, and arson, and sent to Attica prison in 1968. On September 9, 1971, after demands for better living conditions were not met, prisoners took over Yard D of Attica for four days. The uprising ended on September 13, 1971, when New York governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered the prison to be taken back by force, causing the deaths of 43 people, including nine hostages. 62 prisoners were indicted for the incident, including Shango on the charges of felony murder in the deaths of Kenneth Hess and Barry Schwartz. Shango was acquitted of these charges on June 26, 1975.

The bulk of this series consists of court documents relating to the trial of Shango for the murders of Hess and Schwartz. After the Attica trial, Mr. Goodman represented Shango in appealing his sentence connected to the arrests in Michigan, which led to Shango’s release in 1979. Papers relating to the 1965 robbery/murder and 1966 policemen shooting are also included, as well as documents relating to Shango’s appeal. Subseries A: Trial Records, 1965-1979 Court records for the Attica trial, as well as documents relating to Shango’s trial in Michigan in 1967 and the appeal that led to his release in 1979.

Subseries B: Correspondence, 1968-1979 Correspondence relating to all trials involving Shango, either as defendant or petitioner.

Subseries C: Research, 1971-1975 Research sources, notes and memorandums for the preparation of trial.

Subseries D: Publicity, 1966-1980, Leaflets, newspaper clippings, articles, and other publications concerning Shango and the Attica Uprising. Also included are drafts and documents relating to a post-trial book compiled by Ernest Goodman.

Series V: Litigation This series is comprised of other cases in which Goodman served as council or participated. Subseries A: Immigration – Denaturalization/Deportation Cases, 1949-1975 This subseries consists of immigration cases as represented by Mr. Goodman and/or the firm of Goodman, Crockett, Eden, & Robb. In a majority of the cases, the client was targeted for denaturalization/deportation due to the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 (also known as the Walter-McCarran Immigration Law), which allowed the government to deport immigrants and naturalized citizens engaged in “subversive activities.” Those targeted under this act were overwhelmingly accused of being involved with the Communist party at the time of their naturalization. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information, which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Subseries B: Committee to Assist Southern Lawyers (CASL), 1962-1966 Started by the National Lawyers Guild, under the direction of Goodman and partner George Crockett, the Committee to Assist Southern Lawyers (later called Committee for Legal Assistance in the South) sent attorneys to the Southern states to represent civil rights activists.

Subseries C: General Litigation, 1941-1987 Various cases represented or assisted by Goodman.

Series VI: Professional and Personal Associations This series consists of materials relating to the organizations that influenced Goodman’s professional and personal life.

Subseries A: National Lawyers Guild, 1937-1994 The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) originated in 1936, when a group of lawyers met in New York to discuss the formation of an integrated liberal and progressive bar association. A call was issued to American lawyers to form chapters of the guild nationwide, and in 1937, the founding convention commenced in Washington, DC. The NLG often takes unpopular cases in the pursuit of social and economic justice, operating on the belief that human rights are more sacred than property rights. Mr. Goodman actively participated in the NLG and served as president from1963 to 1966. This subseries is comprised of records from his involvement in the NLG, including conventions, committees, and the Detroit chapter of the NLG. Committee to Assist Southern Lawyers cases (which were under the auspices of the NLG) can be found in Series V: Subseries B.

Subseries B: American Association of Jurists, 1970-1989 In 1970, Ernest Goodman initiated the organization of an Inter-American conference of lawyers to discuss human rights and social change. After four years of correspondence and planning, the first conference took place in Lima, Peru on June 10, 1974. During the second Inter-American conference in 1975, the decision was made to set up a new international jurists’ association to be called American Association of Jurists (AAJ). The guiding principles of the AAJ would be the defense and promotion of human rights and solidarity with jurists prosecuted due to their supporting these principles. Subseries C: Bucks Dinner, 1939-1994 In 1929, labor lawyer and social justice advocate, Maurice Sugar, invited like-minded friends to join him for an evening of venison and song. He charged guests 50 cents and contributed the money to a fund for the unemployed. Thus began the Bucks Dinner. For more than fifty years, those dedicated to equality, peace, and justice, gathered annually to enjoy food, entertainment, and to raise money for the causes in which they believed. Ernest Goodman took an active role in the Bucks Dinner, acting as “Head Hunter” and taking part in the committee to distribute funds raised.

Series VII: Subject Files, 1932-1995 This series is comprised of materials on people, places and events that influenced Goodman’s belief system and were driving forces in both his personal andprofessional life.
Part III: Part III of Mr. Goodman’s papers focuses on miscellaneous cases he was involved in, mainly in the 1980’s and 1990’s, drafts of his book and other writings, and his work with the Wayne State University Law School. It also includes correspondence from 1961-1996, particularly his correspondence with his relatives in Estonia. Important Correspondents: Glickman, Rosa and Abram Glickman, Leon

Dates

  • 1929 - 1997
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1975

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

TO USE PART 2, SERIES V: SUBSERIES A OR PART 3, RESEARCHERS MUST SIGN A RESTRICTED USE STATEMENT.
Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Extent

52.5 Linear Feet (100 MB, 2 SB)

Abstract

A founding member of the Detroit Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Ernest Goodman served as NLG President, and formed the nation’s first (known) interracial law firm: Goodman, Crockett, Eden and Rob. He was deeply involved with the labor movement and some of its most bitter union organizing struggles and remained committed throughout his career to serving the common man, with clients ranging from Communists, Black Panthers, prison inmates, and African-Americans during the civil rights movement.

Part I of Mr. Goodman’s papers reflect his involvement in civil rights, constitutional law and labor issues, focusing on the Michigan Smith Act trial, the Sherrill School desegregation case, and the Black Panther trial for the murder of a Detroit Police officer.

Part II reflects his activities as counsel in controversial cases, particularly first amendment and civil rights cases, courts martial, deportation and denaturalization, and the 1971 Attica prison uprising. These papers further focus on the events, places, and people who influenced both his personal life and a career spent in service to social justice for the common man.

Part III (Two storage boxes) focuses on various cases, mainly from the 1980s-1990s, Goodman's writings, his work with Wayne State University Law School, and Estonian family correspondence.

History

Part I: Ernest Goodman was born in Hemlock, Michigan on August 21, 1906. Mr. Goodman graduated from Wayne State College in 1928 with a L.L.B., and was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan that same year. During the decade of the 1930s, he was active in many labor cases, and became an associate of Maurice Sugar, general counsel of the UAW, in 1939. In 1950 Ernest Goodman and George Crockett, Jr. formed one of the first interracial law firms; Goodman, Crockett, Eden and Robb, specifically to handle civil rights, labor, and constitutional law cases.

Mr. Goodman is a member of the Detroit Bar Association and the National Lawyers Guild. A founding member of the Lawyers Guild, Mr.Goodman served as it's president from 1963 to 1966.
Part II: Ernest Goodman was born in Hemlock, Michigan on August 21, 1906. In 1928, he graduated from the first law school class at Wayne State University. Upon graduation and passing the bar, Goodman opened a law practice in Detroit with a classmate. To make ends meet, he began taking collection cases on behalf of local merchants. As the city sank into poverty due to the depression, Goodman had an epiphany that would become a guiding force in his career and his life: he would “...use the law as an instrument to obtain justice for the common people.”1 This transformation was born both by his own professional frustration, and by his introduction to labor lawyer, Maurice Sugar.

Goodman spent the next twelve years, until 1947, deeply involved with the labor movement. He worked alongside Sugar, as Associate General Counsel of the United Auto Workers, fighting in some of Michigan’s most bitter union organizing struggles.

In 1937 another event occurred that would influence Goodman’s personal and professional life: he became executive secretary of the newly formed Detroit Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). This association opened a new world of diversity for Goodman and would be a lifelong influence on Goodman’s career. Many of his cases would come from the NLG; others would be tried with the same principles that formed its basis.

In 1950, Goodman joined with George Crockett, Mort Eden, and Dean Robb to form the first (known) interracial law partnership. Goodman continued his dedication to serve the common man by taking unpopular clients, including Communists, Black Panthers, prison inmates, and African Americans during the civil rights movement. Ernest Goodman died in 1997 at the age of 90. He was survived by his wife of 65 years, Freda, and his sons, Richard and William.

1. 88:7 Commencement Address; Wayne State University Law School, May 1993

Arrangement

Part I: Arranged in 3 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-5), Series 2 (Boxes 5-12), and Series 3 (Boxes 12-19). Folders are arranged alphabetically or chronologically depending upon the subject.

Series 1 is divided into 4 subseries. Series 2 is divided into 4 subseries. Series 3 is divided into 4 subseries.
Part II: Part two is arranged in four series – Series IV (Boxes 20-45), Series V (Boxes 45-72), Series VI (Boxes 72-86), and Series VII (Boxes 86-100). Folders are arranged alphabetically, unless otherwise noted.

Series IV: Bernard “Shango” Stroble and the Attica Uprising is further divided into four subseries: Subseries A: Trial Records (Boxes 20-41) Subseries B: Correspondence (Box 41). Folders are arranged chronologically. Subseries C: Research (Boxes 42-43 Subseries D: Publicity (Boxes 44-45)

Series V: Litigation is further divided into three subseries: Subseries A: Immigration – Denaturalization/Deportation Cases (Boxes 45-51). Folders are arranged by surname of individual, but are not listed on the guide. Contact the Reference Archivist for assistance. Subseries B: Committee to Assist Southern Lawyers (Boxes 51-56) Subseries C: General Litigation (Boxes 56-72)

Series VI: Professional and Personal Associations is further divided into three subseries: Subseries A: National Lawyers Guild (Boxes 72-81) Subseries B: American Association of Jurists (Boxes 81-83) Subseries C: Bucks Dinner (Boxes 83-86). Folders are arranged chronologically.
Part III: Folders are listed by their location within each box. They are not necessarily arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout the entire collection.

Acquisition

Part I: The papers of Ernest Goodman were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban affairs in November of 1983 by Mr. Goodman.
Part II: After completion of part one of the Ernest Goodman papers in 1985, additional materials were donated by Mr. Goodman in 1992 and 1994. Supplementary materials were donated after Mr. Goodman’s death by his son William in 1998. Materials donated subsequent to part one were merged to create part two of the Ernest Goodman collection, itself a part of the Damon J. Keith Law Collection of African American Legal History.
Part III: Part III of the Ernest Goodman Papers was received as part of the William Goodman Papers given to the Reuther Library in 2010. Materials join Parts I and II as part of the Damon J. Keith Law Collection of African American Legal History.

Transfers

Part I: Approximately 24 photographs relating to the Black Panther trial have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection. Books, pamphlets, and publications received with this collection are available in the Archives Library.
Part II: Photographs and audio/video tapes were transferred to the Reuther’s Audiovisual Department.
Part III: A cassette tape from the Muhammad Shakoor trial and photographs of Goodman’s Estonian relatives were transferred to the Reuther’s Audiovisual Department.

Processing History

Part I: Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in May 1985.
Part II: Part 2 processed and finding aid updated by Robbie Terman in 2010.
Part III: Part 3 processed and finding aid updated by Kathy Makas on June 17, 2010.
Title
Guide to the Ernest Goodman Papers
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Date
1985-10
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 2010: Part 2 processed and finding aid updated by Robbie Terman.
  • 2010-06-17: Part 3 processed and finding aid updated by Kathy Makas.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA