Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Charles L. Black


T. Charles Erickson

[used with permission of the Yale Office of Public Affairs]

Charles L. Black Jr., 85, died in May, 2001 as Strangers to Us All—this website—was being developed. He will be remembered for his long tenure as a professor at two major law schools—Yale and Columbia—and for his scholarship in the field of constitutional law. His writings often focused on civil rights, capital punishment and presidential impeachment. Black studied the Greek classics and tried to keep alive the idea that law should be studied as one of the humanities rather than singularly devoted to a study of rules and professional practices. Black published three collections of poetry, the first in 1963, the last in 1983. He was also a musician; he played trumpet and harmonica. Black's obituary notes that: "He could enthrall audiences with references to Descartes and Japanese gods, all delivered in a thick Texas drawl, often with a corncob pipe in his mouth." [Source: Obituary, Lexington Herald-Leader, May 11, 2001] [See Obituary in the New York Times (May 8, 2001) by Robert D. McFadden]

"When Charles Black died in May 2001, the legal world lost a unique scholar-activist, a remarkable stylist in deeds as well as words, and a 'miscellanist' wihtout peer." [Aviam Soifer, Charles L. Black, Jr.: Commitment, Connection, and the Ceasless Quest for Justice, 7 Asian-Pacific L. & Pol'y J. 1, 13 (2006)][Soifer goes on to say: "Simply put, Black unquestionalbly was one of the leading constitutional law scholars of the twentieth century." Id. at 18. "Charles [Black] taught and exemplified law as an art, and he viewed the world as a poet. IN his embrace of the art and soul of law, he merged the legal dancer and the dance with unprecedented forceful grace." Id. at 30]

Legal Scholar and Humanist Charles L. Black Jr. Dies
Yale Bulletin & Calendar

Charles L. Black
Yale Law Report

Charles L. Black

Lawyer, Poet, Jazz Aficionado


Charles Black, Telescopes and Islands: Poems (Denver: Alan Swallow Press, 1963)(New York: AMS, 1975)

___________, Owls Bay in Babylon (Paradise, California: Dustbooks, 1980)

___________, The Waking Passenger (New Orleans: New Orleans Poetry Journal Press, 1983)


___________, Poems by Charles Black, 111 Yale Law Journal 1927 (2002)(selected by David Black)


In Tribute to Charles L. Black, Jr.: Published Works of Charles L. Black, Jr., 95 Yale Law Journal 1579-1600 (1986)

Tributes [to Charles L. Black, Jr.], 111 Yale Law Journal 1889-1934 (2002)

David W. Leebron, Remembering Charles L. Black, 111 Yale L.J. 1889-891 (2002)

Thomas Black, Recollections of a Brother and a Friend, 111 Yale L.J. 1893-1895 (2002)

Jack B. Weinstein, Some Memories of Charles L. Black, Jr. 111 Yale L.J. 1897-1900 (2002)

Guido Calabresi, Charles Black: Gentle Genius, 111 Yale L.J. 1901-
1903 (2002)

Louis H. Pollak, Charles L. Black, Jr. and Civil Rights, 111 Yale L.J.
1904-1909 (2002)

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tribute to Charles Black, 111 Yale L.J. 1911-1914 (2002)

Philip Chase Bobbitt, For My Friend, 111 Yale L.J. 1915-1922 (2002)

Robin Black, Dad, 111 Yale L.J. 1923-1926 (2002)

Poems by Charles Black (selected by David Black), 111 Yale L.J. 1927-930 (2002)

Anthony T. Kronman, The Genius of Charles Black, 111 Yale L.J. 1931-934 (2002)