“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Those famous words changed attorney Johnnie Cochran’s life. Despite anyone’s feelings about his most famous trial, his work was always about one thing.
Justice for us. Born two generations removed from enslaved grandparents, Cochran always knew how the system targets our people. “Until the Simpson verdict, many people in the majority community believed that the legal system in this country functioned properly,” he once said.
We know that the system functions as it was designed, never straying too far from its anti-Black roots. He was a celebrity lawyer but civil rights and police brutality were what drew him to study law.
Cochran represented Leonard Deadwyler’s widow, a Black motorist killed by LAPD. He helped free Black Panther Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. He fought for Black immigrants, including Haitian Abner Louima, who NYPD tortured, and Amadou Diallo, a Guinean man murdered by the NYPD.
Cochran reminds us that there is always an opportunity for us to overcome. We’re the ones who have to create it.