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Charles Hamilton Houston

From Academic Kids

Charles Hamilton Houston (18951950) was a black lawyer who trained Thurgood Marshall. He played a role in nearly every civil rights case before the Supreme Court between 1930 and Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

Contents

Biography

Born September 3, 1895 in Washington, D.C., Houston prepared for college at Dunbar High School in Washington, then matriculated to Amherst College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1915.

From 1915 to 1917, Houston taught English at Howard University. From 1917 to 1919, he was a First Lieutenant in the United States Infantry, based in Fort Meade, Maryland. Houston later wrote:

"The hate and scorn showered on us Negro officers by our fellow Americans convinced me that there was no sense in my dying for a world ruled by them. I made up my mind that if I got through this war I would study law and use my time fighting for men who could not strike back."

In the fall of 1919 he entered Harvard Law School, earning his Bachelor of Laws degree 1922 and his Doctor of Laws degree in 1923. He was a member of the editorial staff of Harvard Law Review in 1922.

Beginning in the 1930s, Houston served as the first special counsel to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and therefore was involved with the majority of civil rights cases from then until his death on April 22, 1950.

He later joined Howard Law School's faculty, establishing a long-standing relationship between Howard and Harvard law schools. While at Howard, he was a mentor to Thurgood Marshall, who argued Brown v. Board of Education and was later appointed to the Supreme Court.

Cases argued before the Supreme Court

Legacy

Houston was posthumously awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal in 1950 and in 1958 the main building of the Howard University School of Law was dedicated as Charles Hamilton Houston Hall. His importance became more broadly known through the success of Thurgood Marshall and after the 1983 publication of Genna Rae McNeil's Groundwork: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Struggle for Civil Rights.

Houston is the namesake of the Charles Houston Bar Association and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School, slated to open in the fall of 2005.

External links

Further reading

  • McNeil, Genna Rae, Groundwork: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Struggle for Civil Rights, ISBN 0812211790.
  • Kluger, Richard, Simple Justice, ISBN 0394722558.
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