“Ode to Jack Greenberg” by Hon. Jack B. Weinstein

Jack Greenberg was my classmate and neighbor. He is a role model. So lofty are Jack’s accomplishments an “ode” to him seems in order.

Learned son of Columbia College,
forged into Republic’s sword to slay tyrants
threatening to destroy democracy in World War II.

Naval officer, returned to Columbia Law School,
class of ’48, beaten into legal advocate for justice,
by professors wielding hammers of Socrates.

Sent forth by Professor Walter Gellhom
to assist Thurgood Marshall in eliminating
America’s shame, racial discrimination.

Driven to eliminate racism, inequality,
facing down sneers, threats, chains, ropes, brutal mobs,
with shield and sword of law and Constitution.

His name, Jack Greenberg.
Let us praise him.

No legal pedant; full of heart and warmth for colleagues, clients,
jogging while learning Chinese, preparing savory dinners, writing a
cookbook, entertaining neighbors, friends, students.

Like prophets of old, imbued with spiritual insights,
feeling, when before our highest Court,
“full of awe, as if I were in a synagogue, with yarmulke.”

Victorious in scores of Supreme Court cases:
Brown, ending legally-forced segregation in public schools;
Holmes County Board, ordering desegregation “at once.”

Duke Power, striking discriminatory job tests;
Furman, death penalty procedures too cruel;
anti-miscegenation laws; discrimination in all its nasty forms

His name, Jack Greenberg,
Let us extol him.

Chosen by Thurgood Marshall as Director Legal Defense Fund,
charged with leading America out of bigotry’s wilderness,
to physical threats responded: “I was at Iwo Jima. I’m not frightened.”

Denouncing to the world – – through books, learned articles, briefs,
and speeches – – intolerance’s searing abuses,
struggling to eliminate prejudice in hearts and minds of all.

Engaging foundations, corporations, persons rich and poor,
to support Legal Defense Fund’s work,
trained civil rights bar in South, North and throughout the land.

Helped found and support Mexican American Legal Defense Fund,
set patterns for Asian American Legal Defense Fund,
Human Rights Watch and many civil rights groups.

His name, Jack Greenberg,
Let us sing his praises.

Dispatched students of Columbia Law School to South Africa,
to fight Apartheid; he still battles for the Roma,
killed with Jews in World War II.

Returned to Columbia as Dean of College to imbue youth
with responsibility for downtrodden and disadvantaged,
nurtured students, future leaders of the struggle.

Professor of law, teaching freedom for all,
at Columbia and universities here and abroad, to carry on
heroic battles in courts and elsewhere against injustice.

His name, Jack Greenberg,
Let us call forth his deeds.

For work on behalf of all humanity,
decorated worldwide by civil rights organizations, universities,
honored by the Presidential Citizens Medal presented by our nation,

Gathered tonight is New York City’s Bench and Bar
to applaud his work, to help carry it forward,
to gain for all equality of opportunity in fact.

May our legal profession forever
be devoted to
protecting human rights and liberty.

Pay homage to this warrior for humanity, Jack Greenberg,
and his devoted mate, Deborah.
They inspire us on to ennobling works.

Let us acclaim life member, Jack Greenberg,
our profession’ s exemplar.