Michael Tyler thought about becoming a lawyer since the fourth grade, and as a senior in high school, he needed one.

Tyler was on the verge of being expelled from Cheyenne Central High School in Wyoming. It was early 1973, and as one of the few African-American students at the high school, he led an effort to hold an assembly to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who’d been assassinated less than five years earlier. The mostly white student council agreed, but the principal refused to make the event mandatory—unlike homecoming and Sadie Hawkins festivals, which were required.

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