Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 38

WORTH READING
Black Was the Ink
Michelle Coles
Tu Books/Lee & Low Books, 2021
Review by June S. Phillips
F
or civil rights attorney Michelle
Coles, her response to righting
past and present wrongs of
racial injustice was to write a
young adult novel highlighting
the true inequalities thrust upon
African Americans since the abolition
of slavery.
Using history as her bridge, Coles has created a
poignant coming-of-age story that masterfully
combines time travel, the Reconstruction era,
and modern social justice issues. Protagonist
Malcolm Williams is a teen living in Washington,
D.C., who feels despondent and lacks hope that
anything good will happen to him. As violence
increases in his neighborhood, his mother
sends him to a relative's farm in Mississippi,
much to Malcolm's displeasure. While in the
attic of the farmhouse, he finds an old diary
and is mysteriously transported back to 1866
to embody his ancestor, Cedric Johnson.
As Cedric, Malcolm meets the first Black
members of Congress who fought for change
during the Reconstruction era: Robert Elliott,
Hiram Revels, Blanche Bruce, Richard Cain, and
Robert Smalls. By introducing these statesmen,
Coles inspires appreciation of the bills that they
and others introduced to help Black people
transition from enslavement to citizenship.
" Only a few years removed from slavery, Black
people in the Reconstruction era were owning
successful businesses, serving in Congress,
building their savings, reuniting as families, and
getting an education, all of which had previously
been denied to them, " said Coles in an
inteview with Washington Lawyer.
But only a few years later, violence fueled by
white supremacists led to the end of Reconstruction
and the rise of Jim Crow, along with a
loss in opportunities that Black communities
are still struggling to recover from today.
Readers can't help but wonder how different
America would look today if their plans had
during Reconstruction. Also, Booker T. Washington
spoke at the church, and Coretta Scott
King led a protest on behalf of striking hospital
workers from the church's steps where she was
met by bayonet-wielding members of the
South Carolina National Guard. " Suddenly, the
link between slavery, the collapse of Reconstruction,
the civil rights movement, and
present-day racial injustices crystallized for
me, and Black Was the Ink was born, " Coles says.
Coles's novel challenges people to see history
from a different perspective, forcing readers to
ask themselves if the choices they make today
reflect who they are and who they present to
the world. It is never too late to start making
policies grounded in justice and fairness.
Modern-day racial inequalities didn't just occur
from happenstance, and they won't reverse
through inertia, says Coles.
Through Coles's active civil rights practice and
creative endeavors, she hopes to move the
social justice needle forward, healing age-old
wounds and inspiring lasting change, one story
at a time.
been fully realized. Coles's underlying message:
The more we study and understand this history,
the better prepared we will be to make
sure it doesn't repeat itself.
" I have four young sons, and I wanted to write
a book that would help them understand the
struggle for civil rights as early as they could
comprehend it, " Coles says. " Even though it is
written as a young adult novel, adults also love
the book because they learn so much from it.
I would say my target audience is anyone who
is interested in learning why racial disparities
continue to exist 150 years after the abolition
of slavery. "
Coles's book was inspired by the Mother
Emanuel massacre that took place in
Charles ton, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015.
At the time, Coles was on maternity leave from
her job as a civil rights attorney with the U.S.
Department of Justice. Coles says she " struggled
with how to prepare her infant son to
enter a world filled with so much inexplicable
hatred toward people who look like him. "
In doing her research, Coles was surprised to
learn that Denmark Vesey, leader of one of
the largest attempted slave rebellions, founded
the congregation that became the Mother
Emanuel Church, and Pastor (and future congressman)
Richard " Daddy " Cain led the church
38 WASHINGTON LAWYER * JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2022
June S. Phillips is a D.C. Bar member and founder
of TrueBliss Television.
Dirty Work: Essential
Jobs and the Hidden Toll
of Inequality in America
Eyal Press
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021
Review by Ronald Goldfarb
I
n his new book, Dirty Work, Eyal
Press pulls no punches when he
argues that good people enable
bad or desperate people to perpetrate
vile acts.
Press says this phenomenon happens because
most people prefer to remain ignorant about
what is done in their name - what happened
in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust is a
classic example. People in Germany, and elsewhere,
either were complicit or hid from the
obvious truth; otherwise such an event could

Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022

From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Protecting the Integrity of the Profession: A Conversation on Legal Ethics
How Far Should You Go? Frivolous Claims & Litigation Ethics
The Solo/Small Firm Life: Lean, Mean Business Machine
Upping Your Game With Professional Coaching
The Founding of the D.C. Bar
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
ABA Delegate’s Corner
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Intro
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - A
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - B
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 4
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 5
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Protecting the Integrity of the Profession: A Conversation on Legal Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 12
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 14
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - How Far Should You Go? Frivolous Claims & Litigation Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Solo/Small Firm Life: Lean, Mean Business Machine
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 22
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Upping Your Game With Professional Coaching
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 26
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Founding of the D.C. Bar
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 32
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - ABA Delegate’s Corner
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover4
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/marchapril2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/marchapril2021
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/septemberoctober2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/November2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/july2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/february2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2016/
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2016
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com