THE ICON: John Minor Wisdom
THE LEGACY: When President Eisenhower appointed him to the federal judiciary in 1957, John Minor Wisdom considered himself a moderate on issues of race. But then, as a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals during the segregation era, he began to see case after case of inexcusable injustice against black citizens. Over the next nearly half-century, Wisdom would become a key player in the fight for civil rights. Despite the outcry of many in the white establishment (and threats from others), he authored a series of rulings that used the Constitution as an unassailable tool to help the region, and the country, throw off the mantle of segregation in schools, on juries, in the workplace and at the ballot box.
THE ARTIST: Saegan Swanson, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “He represented a new breed of white judicial leadership, and he must be looked upon as a brave and courageous member of the bench who helped tear down the walls of segregation and the walls of racial discrimination. He represented … the best the South had to offer.” — U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a veteran of the civil rights movement