Editor’s Preface – Vol. 78, No. 4 (Winter 2023)

By Dalia Fuleihan

As the New Year approaches, we may feel called to reflect on the past year. 2022 has been a turbulent year with many dramatic events with far reaching implications—war in Ukraine, setbacks in abortion rights, continued violence against marginalized communities, the midterm elections, and a controversial World Cup hosted in Qatar, to name just a few. The end of a year is as good a time as any to reflect upon the state of our society and our goals for progressive change.

With this in mind, the editorial board is excited to bring you this issue of the NLGR. The articles in this issue cover a wide array of subjects, including racial segregation and public housing, the need for greater protection for unionizing workers, and a couple forays into NLG’s past.  We hope that the following articles encourage you to reflect on our role as movement lawyers, the challenges we face in the future, and the mechanisms we use to advocate for change.

We begin this issue with “A Carefully Selected Tenancy: Public Housing and Racial Segregation in New York City” by David Leeds. Leeds examines the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) role in perpetuating racial and economic segregation across the five boroughs of New York City. Leeds details the history of the NYCHA and its role in perpetuating racial segregation today. Leeds then offers various proposals for reforming the NYCHA and encouraging desegregation.

In this issue’s second article, former editor in chief of the NLG Review, David Gesspass, reviews No Equal Justice: The Legacy of Civil Rights Icon George W. Crockett, by Edward J. Littlejohn and Peter J. Hammer. No Equal Justice is a much-anticipated biography of NLG legend George Crockett. Crockett was one of the founders of the NLG, and was committed to advocating for racial justice, and was instrumental in shifting the NLG’s focus from union advocacy to racial justice during the Civil Rights Movement.  Gesspass’s review expertly assesses the importance of Crockett’s biography and highlights how much we have to learn from the lives and careers of those who came before.

In his article, “Promoting Justice During Union Organizing: The Persuader Rule,” Jeffrey P. Nieznanski discusses the necessity of reinstating the persuader rule in order to promote fairness during union organizing. Nieznanski describes the fraught history of the persuader rule, which promotes transparency during union organizing efforts. Nieznanski’s article explains the importance of the persuader rule, as well as the organized opposition efforts which resulted in its repeal in 2018. In the wake of the Biden administration’s union busting resolution forcing railroad workers to accept management’s demands, “Promoting Justice During Union Organizing” is a much-needed reminder of some of the changes urgently needed in American labor law.

We close this issue with a review of Luca Faciola’s new book Up Against the Law: Radical Lawyers and Social Movements, 1960s-1970s, a history of radical lawyers’ involvement through the dynamic social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Faciola chronicles the involvement of radical lawyers (most especially NLG-affiliated lawyers) with the Civil Rights Movement, Free Speech Movement, Black power militants, and the anti-war movement among others. He documents the development of new legal strategies such as militant litigation and the creation of lawyers’ new identity—comrades in the movement rather than impartial representatives. Faciola’s book provides a fresh perspective on a dynamic era and is an excellent case study for those of us who continue to use our role as legal workers in support of movements for social change.

At the close of this year, these articles offer us both a glimpse into our past and possibility for the future. As we move into the New Year let us take time to reflect on our current position and follow the guidance of these authors as we continue to strive for justice and equality in all its forms.