THERE IS A FOUNTAIN: The Autobiography of a Civil Rights Leader by Conrad Lynn

THERE IS A FOUNTAIN: The Autobiography of a Civil Rights Leader

Email this review


After a long legal career encompassing some of the more bizarre cases of political and social repression on record, Conrad Lynn maintains a purposive vitality that continues to motivate him and save him from despair. Scattered through his reminiscences are names like Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, Max Schactman, and other luminaries of pacificism, socialism, and civil rights who either gave up their causes or compromised their principles, but Lynn (whose personal friendships follow political trajectories) perseveres without them. Organized around his major cases, his story nevertheless gives a picture of the factionalized, split-hair life of the black-and-white left in the Thirties. Lynn joined the Young Communist League while a student at Syracuse, quit over the Party's endorsement of black statehood, rejoined when the line changed, and quit for good amid Stalin's foreign-policy machinations in 1937 (actually, he provoked his expulsion). It was only after this that his legal career got going with cases involving army segregation, McCarthyite civil-rights violations, and the defense of Puerto Rican revolutionaries Albizu Campos and Lolita Lebron. Later he took on the defense of the Black Panther 21 and the Harlem 6 in New York. In all of these accounts, Lynn pulls no punches, accusing prosecutors of creating evidence and judges of corruption--he alleges, for example, that the going price for a judgeship in New York was $42,000. Also included are chapters centered on civil rights marches and Lynn's role in the Russell Tribunal investigating U.S. war crimes in Southeast Asia. Though a committed radical, he steers clear of rhetoric in retracing his search for justice in the courts.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1979
Publisher: Lawrence Hill