“Justice in the Jim Crow South: An Unlikely Journey from Negro Policeman to Florida’s First Black Parole & Probation Commissioner” by Charles J. Scriven

Reviewed by Debbie Floyd

Living through a time and reading about a time in history are two very different experiences. About the time I was born (1950) and growing up in Jacksonville one man was facing an uphill climb for civil rights and equal justice regardless of race. Charles Scriven was bringing about change and reshaping law enforcement.

 Justice in the Jim Crow South is more than a history of law enforcement in Florida told by one police officer. It is a remarkable story about a remarkable man with a fierce sense of justice and refusal to compromise.  Scriven’s unrelenting determination led him to rise through the ranks of the Jacksonville Police Department to eventually become the first Black member of the Florida Parole and Probation Commission.

Charles writes about his childhood in a most heartfelt way.  He shares the poor existence of his family but sheds light into the values his mother and father instilled in him.  His story continues through his adulthood sharing his improbable journey from a segregated squad room to the echelons of law enforcement in Florida.  Charles’ fierce sense of justice and refusal to compromise made an immeasurable difference in the world of law enforcement and beyond.

I found quite a bit of repetition throughout the book, but rather than be a negative it gave strength to Charles’ memories painting a vivid picture of how it was to live during the Jim Crow era and work toward change.  It’s a part of our history that should not be forgotten and remind us all that the struggle for equal opportunity continues.

For more information or to order a book, please visit charlescriven.com.

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