To use “public interest law in furtherance of social justice ideas” – that is how Patricia King described her calling and her career in a sweeping oral history she gave as part of the ABA’s Women Trailblazers Project. King has pursued her vision of social justice – particularly with respect to racial and gender equity – from her path-setting days at Harvard Law School; to her role in civil rights struggles (along with her late husband, Roger Wilkins); to her important high-level positions at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and the Justice Department; to her public testimony against a Supreme Court nominee; and, finally and currently, to her academic work at Georgetown Law School, where she became that institution’s first tenured African American professor.

Journalist and Historical Society member Carl Stern has prepared this summary of King’s remarkable life, from her segregated childhood in Norfolk to the highest levels of American law and education.