03/21/2012 03:00 pm ET

A Lawyer's Legacy

By W. Kim Heron, Metro Times

"I'm partial to Mark Twain's understanding that history doesn't repeat itself; at most it sometimes rhymes," Steve Babson said to start out when he sat down to talk about The Color of Law. Co-authored with two fellow Detroit historians, Dave Riddle and David Elsila, the biography of lawyer-activist Ernie Goodman follows their subject from Detroit's Jewish ghetto to an early job as a repo man to seven appearances (and six wins) before the U.S. Supreme Court. The rise (and internal clashes) of the UAW, the defense of civil liberties during the Red Scare, the civil rights movement, opposition to the Vietnam War, the Black Panthers, the Attica prison uprising ... the movements of his time and numerous key events all intertwine with Goodman's life. An activist through and through, he's on the book cover, a year before his death in 1997, being arrested in a protest supporting Detroit newspaper strikers.

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