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The Supreme Court's momentous school desegregation decision of 1954 was a postmortem victory for Albion Tourgée. Just fifty-eight years earlier this once-famous carpetbagger's attack on segregation was crushed in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. His legal defeat in 1896 typified his frustrated but prophetic career. Tourgée was an idealistic Union veteran who ventured south in 1865. As an advocate of civil rights, political equality, free schools, and penal reform, he was elected to North Carolina's Constitutional Convention of 1868. Olsen records both the fierce struggles and the impressive accomplishments that filled Tourgée's fourteen years in the South. With the collapse of the Southern experiment, Tourgée was inspired to turn to fiction to express his convictions. A Fool's Errand by One of the Fools and Bricks without Straw were classics of their day, providing absorbing accounts and defenses of radical Reconstruction. In 1879 Tourgée went north, where he renewed and extended his crusade for Negro equality by writing, lecturing, and lobbying. For many years he was the most militant and persistent advocate of racial equality in the nation. He was also a vigorous critic of the industrial age, demanding the utilization of federal power in behalf of equality, democracy, and economic justice.