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A Passion for Justice
By: Ralph D. Fertig
Hailed by the Washington Post as the “Conscience of Washington,” and by the Los Angeles Times as “a cog in the wheel of justice,” Ralph D. Fertig began his social activism in his home, filled with German Jewish refugees. In high school and college, he campaigned for desegregation and justice in housing and employment. At the University of Chicago, he fought for academic freedom. He began social work organizing peace between warring street gangs on Chicago’s South side. Fertig organized programs for equal rights with the Congress Of Racial Equality and the Americans for Democratic Action.
He became a Freedom Rider on a bus bound for Jackson, Mississippi, to help integrate interstate buses. The Sheriff in Selma, Alabama threw him in jail, where White prisoners kicked in his ribs.
While running a community center in Washington, D.C., he organized welfare mothers and public housing tenants. Martin Luther King, Jr. invited him to help mobilize the iconic 1963 March on Washington, and to help lobby for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He ran the Greater Los Angeles Community Action Agency serving thousands of disadvantaged people, became a civil rights lawyer, and then a Federal Administrative Judge, ruling on cases of employment discrimination. He taught at the USC School of Social Work rising to the level of full professor, and where he is now a professor emeritus. As President of the Humanitarian Law Project, he was a consultant to the United Nations, and challenged restrictions to free speech in the USA PATRIOT Act before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Ralph D. Fertig documents origins and episodes in the Civil Rights Movement. He has been a steady and consistent advocate for civil rights through non-violent direct action in most of his 88 years. We met in the 1961 Freedom Rides and in his book, A Passion for Justice, Fertig chronicles struggles for desegregation before, through and since then. In the current political climate, this is a book for today.” -John Lewis, US Congressman
(2018, Paperback, 248 pages)