Eeser Ernest Goldstein ’39 died on May 25, 2008. His life’s work—public affairs, education, and family—had their genesis at Amherst College. It was there that he met his wife, Peggy Rosenfeld (Smith ’41), who predeceased him in August 2003. And it was at Amherst that he was deeply influenced by Professors Cole and Warne. But the exclusion of Jews from Amherst fraternities and the admissions quota then in effect also spurred him to fight, lifelong, for those who are excluded by prejudice.
During World War II, Ernest Goldstein served in the Signal Corps as a cryptanalyst deciphering German naval intelligence. He then completed his law school education and went to work first at the Department of Justice in Alien Property, tracking down American corporations secretly owned by German companies. He then served as associate majority counsel to Senator Kefauver’s Organized Crime Committee and as counsel to Congressmen Celler’s Antitrust Subcommittee at a time when it investigated whether Major League Baseball’s use of the reserve clause to restrict baseball players’ freedom to contract should cause it to lose its antitrust exemption. According to contemporaneous articles from the Washington Post, my father questioned, among others, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Duke Snider, and Branch Rickey. In 1952, he took a position in Paris with the Mutual Security Agency, advising Marshall Plan beneficiaries on the development of antitrust laws.
After securing an SJD in 1955 from the Univ. of Wisconsin, Ernest Goldstein taught for ten years at the Univ. of Texas law school, where he led the fight to integrate the dormitories at the Univ. of Texas and was responsible for Dr. King being the first African-American ever invited to speak at the university. When the regents tried to fire him for these efforts, the entire law school, but one, resigned and the regents backed down. As a result of his fight for civil rights, he came to the attention of President Johnson, whom he later served as a special assistant to the president.
After his tenure in the White House, he was a partner at Coudert Freres in Paris and, concurrently with his private practice, fought quietly through back channels for Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate. When in the mid-1990s my father returned to Austin, TX, where he again taught and advised the University’s library on copyright matters, he became deeply involved in establishing a program to finance a program for poor college-bound African-Americans to spend a post-high school year at Deerfield Academy.
Peggy Goldstein chose to be a sculptor and a wife—roles thought to be incompatible in 1941. Throughout his life, Ernest Goldstein supported the idea in his home life—where he was also an active father to his daughter, Susan, and son, Daniel ’69—and at work, that men and women both could and should have full careers and meaningful home lives.
It seems to me that he made good use of an Amherst education.
—Daniel Goldstein ’69