Arc of Justice

Arc of Justice

by

Kevin Boyle

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Cecil Rowlette Character Analysis

Cecil Rowlette is a Black lawyer and friend of Julian Perry. He joins Perry and Charles Mahoney to form the first defense team for Ossian, Henry, Otis, and Gladys Sweet, John Latting, William Davis, Joe Mack, Norris Murray, Hewitt Watson, Charles Washington, and Leonard Morse. Rowlette also represented Fleta Mathies and Alexander Turner earlier in the summer. Rowlette’s parents were formerly enslaved, and he grew up in Virginia, pulling himself into the talented tenth with an education at Virginia Union and Howard Universities. He presents a carefully crafted legal arguments in favor of dismissing the charges against the defendants in pre-trial hearings.
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Cecil Rowlette Character Timeline in Arc of Justice

The timeline below shows where the character Cecil Rowlette appears in Arc of Justice. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: White Houses
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...have got more privileges than you’re entitled to.” She remains defiant as Black lawyer Cecil Rowlette gets her case dismissed. (full context)
Chapter 6: The Letter of Your Law
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
News of the shooting tears through Detroit’s Black elite. Perry asks Cecil Rowlette, the Black attorney who represented Fleta Mathies and Alexander Turner, to join Ossian’s defense. A... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
...10th, the day following the shootings. A liberal judge denies the motion offered by Perry, Rowlette, and Mahoney to dismiss the charges, but this forces the Prosecutor’s hand. His office presents... (full context)
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Three days after the shooting, on Saturday, Perry, Rowlette, and Mahoney finally get access to their clients. The NAACP will cover all costs associated... (full context)
Chapter 7: Freedmen, Sons of God, Americans
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...a letter to Johnson criticizing the trio of lawyers. He writes particularly harshly about Cecil Rowlette, who happens to be dark-skinned and the son of a formerly enslaved person. (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
...and convict the Sweets and their compatriots of conspiracy by implication. The defense attorneys, especially Rowlette, do their best to poke holes in the witnesses’ testimony. But, despite this and Moll’s... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
White uses this blow to revisit the idea of adding a white defense lawyer, but Rowlette’s terms—that he and his co-counsels remain involved and that no other than Thomas Chawke, Detroit’s... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
While Walter White fumes over Rowlette’s impertinence, James Johnson starts fundraising. News of the Sweets’ arrest spreads through the national Black... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
...community, which begins raising a separate defense fund “uncontrolled by outside politics.” Newly empowered, Cecil Rowlette remains in control of the case through the arraignment hearing. (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
Thus, Rowlette remains in control of the case on the day of the arraignment hearing. Witness testimony... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Prodigal Son
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...himself to Black supporters by giving the case an unbiased handling. Although he denies Cecil Rowlette’s motion to dismiss charges, his evident sympathy for the Black community and commitment to the... (full context)
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...prepare. Clarence Darrow’s interviews with his clients give him insight into the night’s events; Perry, Rowlette, and Mahoney explain the context of the Mathies, Bristol, Fletcher, and Turner cases. Arthur Garfield... (full context)
Chapter 10: Judgement Day
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...Iva spend much of the winter sick with racking coughs, and the local defense team—Cecil Rowlette, Julian Perry, and Charles Mahoney—express frustration with Hays’s and Darrow’s defense. They think it would... (full context)