Jacob Smith, a prominent black lawyer and political and civil rights leader in New York in the segregated 1950s, was assassinated when his son, Jock, was eight years old. If this memoir told only of a child’s loving remembrance of his father (and a desire to follow in his footsteps, thus Climbing Jacob’s Ladder), it would be a success. But Jock Smith grew up to become a lawyer himself, a college professor, one of the first African American assistant attorneys general in Alabama, and then a highly successful plaintiff’s lawyer, sports agent, sports memorabilia collector, and inspirational speaker. Now a national partner to superlawyer Johnnie Cochran, Smith operates in a fascinating world of power, wealth, fame, and faith. Climbing Jacob’s Ladder tells it all. Jock Smith is a great storyteller, and co-author Paul Hemphill is a great writer. Their collaboration brings us an insider’s view of the legal system, big-time sports collecting, contemporary black life, evangelism, and civil rights.
Jock Smith's story is part history lesson and part sermon and one hundred percent fascinating. He and lawyers like his partner Johnnie Cochran are modern-day knights, using their skills to protect both the poor and defenseless. Climbing Jacob's Ladder
shows how faith and hard work can bring great success.
—The Navies Smiley Show, NPR
This is a fine, moving account of how one becomes a lawyer, practices the profession, and lives a life of faith and commitment. It is also the story of God working through a young man, who was brought to national prominence in the area of law and who was guided to become a concerned man of conscience, a must-read.
—Percy Sutton, Freedom Rider, Chairman Emeritus of the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation
It isn't often that one sees such a powerful intersection of faith, vocation, and avocation as in this book about the life of Jock Smith as inspired by his late father, Jacob. We saw in the civil rights movement that dedicated lawyers can redress society's wrongs. This book depicting the legal victories of a committed advocate shows that this is still true.
—Andrew Young, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
I was moved by this story of how baseball forged a bond between a boy and his father ... Climbing Jacob's Ladder
is a dramatic story and it reminds us that all the struggles of the past are not necessarily in the past. I found especially intriguing that account of how Jock Smith uses his sports collection as a ministry to motivate the young.