Res Ipsa Loquitur

What was he? He was a lot of things: a Yale Phi Beta Kappa, a Columbia L.L.B., a first lieutenant in World War I's A.E.F., now an assistant district attorney of the State of New York—the information Francis Ellis Rivers put down in applying for membership in the American Bar Association was more than adequate.

Where the application blank asked "white, Negro, Indian, or Mongolian?" he checked "Negro." The application was neither accepted nor rejected. Nothing happened.

Then, -for pigeonholing his application, the Bar Association found itself under indictment by an angry grand jury of its own members. Led by the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!