Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Member

Aram Goudsouzian

Committee Member

Sarah Potter

Committee Member

Beverly Bond


This dissertation reveals the complex post war world, in the emerging Cold War era, with the intersecting disputed worlds of race and ideology through the lens of the Trenton Six case. It provides the reader with a glimpse of one city's story, but it enveloped the entire nation; as Americans attempted to make sense of their chaotic and complicated world, prior to the 1960s civil rights movement. This study explores the problem of race in the criminal justice system. Even as racial attitudes were liberalizing in the post war world, race still pervaded criminal justice proceedings in subtle and unsubtle ways. I demonstrate this by examining how race played out in the interrogation room, and later in the courtroom. This work merges the struggle between civil rights organizations, the role of black women and Progressive participants in the struggle for equality. The epic clash between the Civil Rights Congress and the NAACP for control over the case revealed a complex interplay of liberal and radical forces for racial justice in the post war era. Bessie Mitchell emerged from the margins as she transitioned from a nonpolitical woman to one who became closely associated with the Radical Left and Civil Rights Congress, as she became identified with the larger issues in the struggle for equality. Moreover, this work allows for Progressive members of 1948, James Imbrie and his Princeton Committee, to be re-centered within the historical record. This dissertation integrates the role of black attorneys and the fragile coalition that eventually developed between the NAACP and the Princeton Committee in the retrial of the Trenton Six. I show the conflict and challenges for the NAACP lawyers as they struggled both within the defense team and against the opposition. The difficult relationship that arose during the trial among the lawyers was representative of the larger tension and stress that was playing out amongst liberals trying to engage in the struggle for civil rights.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.