Bryant Book CoverThe first full-length biography of trailblazing D.C. attorney and judge, William Benson Bryant, Soul of the Court: The Trailblazing Life of Judge William Benson Bryant Sr.
by Tonya Bolden, is now available for pre-order. Publication is now expected November 2024.

District Court Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer once stated that there were “only two people in the world who really understood the Constitution” and its impact on American lives. One was Hugo Black, deceased Supreme Court justice. The other was William B. Bryant (1911-2005), who in the early 1950s became the first Black Assistant U.S. Attorney to try cases in Washington, D.C.’s federal courts.

Bryant was nominated to be a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. Bryant served for 45 years, including becoming the Court’s first Black Chief Judge in 1977.

Written by award-winning author Tonya Bolden, this biography presents the story of Bryant’s remarkable, pioneering life in the law—one that began in a segregated Washington D.C. and included many years as an extraordinary criminal defense attorney, including most notably, representation of Andrew Mallory, a poor young Black man sentenced to the electric chair for the 1954 rape of a white woman. Bryant fought for Mallory’s life all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, chiefly on the ground that Mallory’s confession was the result of an illegal detention. The High Court overturned the conviction in Mallory v. United States, which is among the cases that influenced the landmark 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona.

Bolden narrates the story of a life of compassion, unparalleled integrity, and unwavering belief in the dignity of every human being. The biography draws upon an array of documents, newspaper articles, interviews with the judge’s friends, colleagues, and family members, including Judge Bryant’s own words from his oral history for the Historical Society. Tonya Bolden has authored, coauthored, and edited more than fifty books. Many of her titles have garnered starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and other publications. Her numerous awards include a Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C.’s Nonfiction Award for her body of work. This magna cum laude baccalaureate of Princeton University with a master’s degree from Columbia University lives in New York City.

More information about Soul of the Court: The Trailblazing Life of Judge William Benson Bryant Sr. can be found here. Pre-orders can be made by going to The book can also be found for pre-order at and Barnes and