1950 April 22

Charles Hamilton Houston, Civil Rights Pioneer, Dies


Charles Hamilton Houston was a pioneering African-American lawyer who played an instrumental role in the litigation challenging racially segregated public schools. Houston is most important for a memo he wrote to the NAACP in 1934 that urged a legal attack on racially segregated schools and outlined a long-term strategy of building a body of cases before challenging the “separate but equal” doctrine directly. The strategy eventually led to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision on May 17, 1954.

From 1935 to 1940 he was Special Counsel to the NAACP. Thurgood Marshall gradually assumed his role as the chief litigator for the NAACP, including the school desegregation cases.

Read: Genna Rae McNeil, Groundwork: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Struggle for Civil Rights (1983)

Learn morehttp://www.naacp.org/pages/naacp-history-charles-hamilton-houston

Watch a lecture on Houston’s legacy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK-PAb7YVhY

Read more: James Rawn, Jr., Root and Branch: Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and the Struggle to End Segregation. (2010)

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