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Genna Rae McNeil. Foreword by Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr

But even though I was a teenager I had heard of Charles H. Houston, and I had a life-long ambition to be a lawyer myself, and when I heard that Charles H. But the Missouri Supreme Court, tragically, in a unanimous opinion that state court said, that since there were schools available in Nebraska, and in Illinois, and in Iowa, which would accept blacks, that Gains would have to go to one of the schools bordering Missouri, rather than to go into his own native land.

Unlike the Murray case, a decision here would apply to all states.


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Jim Crow was headed for a showdown in the U. Supreme Court. By now there was a small but growing network of black civil rights attorneys - almost all trained by Houston and William Hastie at Howard. Houston's former student and assistant, Thurgood Marshall, was named his successor. Meanwhile, Houston switched his attention to attacking segregation in transportation, public accommodations, housing, and labor. These cases provided additional precedents for the final assault on Plessy.

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One of theses cases attacked preferential hiring in the railroad industry. You're stoking coal, and it was an ugly job, and it didn't pay too very much, but it - all of a sudden you get diesel engine. All a fireman has to do is pull this lever, pull this lever, and sit, sit and enjoy himself. Well, you can imagine what the whites, how quickly they went after those jobs. Well, Charlie Houston was a genius. He won a case called the Steele case, and where that was declared illegal for the white union to negotiate to give the jobs that the black firemen had to white firemen just 'cause they were now easy jobs.

He sued to integrate the armed forces and defense industries after World War II. He served on President Roosevelt's Fair Employment Practices Commission, wrote a regular column for the Baltimore Afro-American, he testified before Congress, led protests, marches, and rallies.


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In Houston wrote: "We may not win today or tomorrow; the mills of the gods grind slowly. But the storm gathers, and all the pride and power [of the prejudiced whites] will be swept away, because they have repudiated the brotherhood of man. His already weak heart had been aggravated by the stress of his travels and endless litigation. But although his heart condition steadily deteriorated Houston worked his normal 14 to 19 hour days. He dedicated his whole life to law, to justice, to legal matters, and to people.

I can't recall a single social event, I can't recall one in which Charlie went to. I can't recall one, not one. MORROW: It was interesting to me to watch this man work, shirt sleeves, an old eyeshade on, his door open, bent over a big book reading it very closely and making notes.

Charles Houston, groundbreaking lawyer - African American Registry

He was 54 years old. And almost a sense of how could this have happened to a man who did so much good and whose life was still needed? And he literally, I mean you talk about someone who literally gave his life for the cause! Because he had this heart trouble, heart attack, and the doctors told him that he had to rest. And he said, "I can't rest.

TITLE: 5. In , Jackie Robinson integrated Major League baseball. The next year President Truman ordered the integration of the armed forces. The times, Houston felt, were ripe for intensifying the assault on the Plessy decision. Houston said: "Now the NAACP is making a direct, open, all-out fight against segregation itself, on the ground there is no such thing as 'separate but equal,' that the only reason colored people are segregated is to prevent them from receiving equality.

Painter was that they then built a completely separate law school for this one black. And the issue became whether that was a violation of his equal protection clause. The United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, held that the admission, the denial of admission to Sweatt was a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights. Because they went on and they said, "What makes a great law school?

It's not merely a building, it's not merely a teacher. It includes its history, its alumni, its heritage. Her name was Ada Lois Sipuel.


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And at about the same time a black man wanted to go to graduate school at the University of Oklahoma, and his name was Dr. He had taught in a black college, and he wanted to get his Ph. Well, Oklahoma apparently doesn't have as much money as Texas, and they weren't about to put up a complete, new school of education for one black to get his Ph. So what they did was that they admitted him, but segregated him and required him to sit in the hall with the other students were in the classroom.

MOTLEY: He was required to sit at a separate table in the library and eat at a separate table in the cafeteria, and we went back to the Supreme Court on that, and the Supreme Court struck that down as unconstitutional, point out that obviously, once a black student was admitted, you couldn't segregate the student within the institution. TITLE: 6. With the Sweatt and McLaurin decisions the precedents chipping away at the separate but equal doctrine were mounting up.

Groundwork: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Struggle for Civil Rights

The time had come to put the very idea of separate on trial, to prove that separate schools could never be equal. Just two years after his death, Charles Houston's strategy to end legal segregation was put to the final test. Reverend Oliver Brown joined a dozen other Topeka families in a NAACP lawsuit demanding that their children be allowed to attend nearby white schools rather than cross town and ride a bus to their assigned black schools.

Brown v. Board of Education was not just their case but four other desegregation lawsuits from across the country consolidated by the Supreme Court into one critically important national case. Fittingly, the last case included was a Washington, D.

Thurgood Marshall had become the chief coordinator for the Brown strategy. Once Houston's student, now Marshall stood in Houston's shoes. Davis had argued over cases before the Supreme Court, more than any other attorney in this century - a formidable, world-famous legal opponent.

On December 9, , spectators filled every seat in the Supreme Court and people lined up in the corridors hoping to hear the foremost legal minds argue about segregation and the meaning of the Constitution. Thurgood Marshall and his team argued that segregated schools marked black children with a stamp of inferiority and affected their ability to learn. They argued that such suffering denied black people the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. John W. Davis' argument relied on the Plessy decision to justify segregation.

He felt confident it would yield him yet another legal victory. Well, what he really meant was he had Plessy-Ferguson on his side, because he had failed, it seems to me, in thinking that he could win the case, to consider the buildup by all of the other cases that the NAACP group, and others, were mounting. It was like being born again!

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NAACP History: Charles Hamilton Houston

It was tremendous! And the people were coming out into the streets. They couldn't believe that we had won! They waged a campaign of delays, obstruction, and violence they called "Massive Resistance. Link Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed. Description Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book!

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The legacy of Charles Hamilton Houston

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