Touched with Fire

Touched with Fire

Morris B. Abram and the Battle against Racial and Religious Discrimination

David E. Lowe

312 pages
12 photographs, 1 illustration, 1 timeline

Hardcover

December 2019

978-1-64012-096-9

$34.95 Pre-order

About the Book

Morris B. Abram (1918–2000) emerged from humble origins in a rural South Georgia town to become one of the leading civil rights lawyers in the United States during the 1950s. While unmasking the Ku Klux Klan and serving as a key intermediary for the release of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from prison on the eve of the 1960 presidential election, Abram carried out a successful fourteen-year battle to end the discriminatory voting system in his home state, which had entrenched racial segregation. The result was the historic “one man, one vote” ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963.

At the time of his selection—the youngest person ever chosen to head the American Jewish Committee—Abram also became a leading international advocate for the Jewish state of Israel. He was also a champion of international human rights, from his leadership in the struggle to liberate Soviet Jewry to his service as permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

In Touched with Fire David E. Lowe chronicles the professional and personal life of this larger-than-life man. Encompassing many of the contentious issues we still face today, such as legislative apportionment, affirmative action, campus unrest, and the enforcement of international human rights, Abram’s varied career sheds light on our own troubled times.

Abram was tapped for service by five different U.S. presidents and survived a battle with acute myelocytic leukemia. He never abandoned his belief that the United States might someday become a colorblind society, where people would be judged, as his friend Martin Luther King dreamed, not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This elegantly written book is the biography Abram has long deserved.

Author Bio

David E. Lowe is a retired vice president for government relations and public affairs for the National Endowment for Democracy. Lowe, who holds a PhD in political science from Johns Hopkins University, has taught at Drew University, George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, and the Washington Semester Program of Lewis and Clark College, and has consulted for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and UN Watch.
 

Praise

“David Lowe brings Morris Abram to life, vividly describing Abram’s powerful intellect and his passionate, effective pursuit of noble causes.”—George Shultz, former U.S. secretary of state
 

“A long overdue biography of a Southern white civil rights pioneer, American Jewish leader, Brandeis University president, U.S. ambassador, and human rights activist who ended up on the wrong side of the 1960s and whom history has unjustly forgotten.  This is an instructive tale of liberalism’s swerve and of roads not taken.”—Jonathan D. Sarna, University Professor and Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University
 

“Morris Abram will always be remembered at the American Jewish Committee as a towering Jewish leader of the twentieth century. David Lowe compellingly traces his career as advocate extraordinaire for civil and human rights, Israel, and Soviet Jewry. Abram’s model of effective leadership continues to be instructive, as this impressive volume highlights.”—David Harris, CEO of American Jewish Committee 

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface

Acknowledgements

Timeline of Morris Abram’s Life

Introduction

1. Childhood

2. Education

3. Atlanta Lawyer

4. Victory

5. Jewish Imperatives

6. Continuing the Struggle

7. Brandeis

8. Values

9. New York Lawyer

10. Transition

11. Challenging New Definitions of Civil Rights

12. Leadership

13. Back to the United Nations

14. Legacy

Notes

Bibliography

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