This chapter turns away from the linguistic strategies people of color mobilized in court to investigate white lawyers’ incentives to represent black litigants and white judges’ motivations when deciding cases involving African Americans’ claims. It assesses the role of white people in the story of black litigiousness. Of course, rhetoric remained important, but rhetoric rarely led to results without a particular institutional makeup. Understanding the institutional framework of the Natchez district bench and bar—in this case, the makeup of the legal professionals, the internal hierarchies and values, the incentive patterns, and the pressure points and tensions—provides insight into how and where marginalized peoples inserted themselves and under what circumstances.
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