The New Yorker: Briefly Noted

The New Yorker
Briefly Noted

A Girl Stands at the Door, by Rachel Devlin (Basic). In 1936, a black man named Lloyd Gaines was denied admission to the University of Missouri School of Law because of his race. The N.A.A.C.P. successfully sued, but Gaines disappeared mysteriously. From then on, the N.A.A.C.P.’s search for promising plaintiffs in desegregation suits focussed on female volunteers. Devlin tells the stories of young women who were adept at the “high-wire act” required to endure a long and perilous process. Ada Lois Sipuel, who desegregated the University of Oklahoma College of Law, was praised for her “finesse” and “ready smile.” Patricia Black, who testified in a lawsuit against a segregated Kansas school district, later said that she was chosen because she had been taught “how to act in certain situations.”