Herbert Rothschild Jr.'s 'The Bad Old Days: A Decade of Struggling for Justice in Louisiana' Depicts in Vivid Detail the Kind of Local Work That Transformed the Old South

Just when prominent Black scholars like Tomiko Brown-Nagin are calling for more attention to the roles unheralded people played in the Civil Rights Movement, along comes Herbert B. Rothschild Jr.'s account of his work as a volunteer leader of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana during that turbulent time. In The Bad Old Days: A Decade of Struggling for Justice in Louisiana, published by Fulton Books, he chronicles the kinds of struggles that had to be waged in every city and town across the South before the rule of law could prevail.

In this blend of grassroots history and memoir, Rothschild tells story after story of confronting injustice. Engagingly written, his accounts bring to life a world that, while still recognizable, no longer exists as it did when he confronted it.

"I grew up in New Orleans in the 1940's and 1950's," Rothschild recalls. "During those years nothing prompted me to question the prevailing culture. It was the Civil Rights Movement that stirred my conscience, beginning with the desegregation of New Orleans schools. Footage of the white crowd cursing and threatening six-year-old Ruby Bridges as she walked so bravely into the Frantz school was shocking. My conversion was completed when James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered in Mississippi in 1964. I resolved to return South after I finished my graduate work and find a way into the struggle."

The way turned out to be the ACLU. While teaching at Louisiana State University, Rothschild formed and directed a chapter in Baton Rouge, then later served as state president and finally legislative director. Defending constitutional rights involved him in myriad struggles. In some, such as the Civil Rights and Women's movements, he played a supportive role. In others, such as protection of First Amendment exercise, reform of the criminal justice system, and rights of students and the mentally ill, he was prominent. 

By 1978, when Rothschild re-focused his activism on ending the nuclear arms race, the Old South, organized around the subordination, exploitation and humiliation of Black people, had been transformed into something more like the rest of the country. That momentous change required the efforts and sacrifices of countless people, most of whose names will never appear in the standard histories of those times.

Readers who wish to experience this illuminating work can purchase The Bad Old Days: A Decade of Struggling for Justice in Louisiana at bookstores everywhere, or online at the Apple iTunes Store, Amazon, Google Play or Barnes & Noble. 

Please direct all media inquiries to Author Support via email at support@fultonbooks.com or via telephone at 877-210-0816.

Source: Fulton Books