Charles Hamilton Houston

Quick Look At Houston

Charles Hamilton Houston who was also known as "The Man Who Killed Jim Crow" was an African American lawyer who greatly contributed to the end of segregation. He also laid the foundation for the famous Brown v. Board of Education case strategy and trained the famous Black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall.

Early Life and Education

Charles Hamilton Houston was born in Washington D.C., on December 3, 1895. His father worked as a lawyer in D.C. Houston attended Dunbar High School, and for college, he enrolled in Amherst College. He graduated from college in 1915, and for two years, he taught English at Howard University. After teaching, he fought in World War I for the United States Infantry as a First Lieutenant. While fighting for the army, Houston got a lot of hate from many of the white soldiers. He decided "If I got through this war I would study law and use my time fighting for men who could not strike back." Staying true to what he had set his mind to, in 1919, Houston enrolled in Harvard Law School. In 1922, he became the first Black student to serve as editor of the Harvard Law Review. In 1923, he had graduated with his Bachelor's and Doctorate degree in law.


Houston studied overseas at the University of Madrid, and in 1924, he was admitted into the District of Columbia Bar Association. From 1930, until his death, he worked for NAACP and handled most of the Civil Rights cases that came to them. He also began working at Howard Law School, where he met, trained, and mentored famous Black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. Houston also rounded up talented law students at Howard to help the NAACP with their legal business. Marshall was one of those many students. In the later 1930s, Houston began working on overturning the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that allowed segregated schools on the grounds that they were "separate but equal." He decided to collect evidence that the schools were not equal in any way. Southern states spent less than half of the money that they spent on white schools, on Black schools. Houston traveled to the south with his mentee, Marshall, where they took pictures of Black schools and pictures of white schools. In Black schools, they found walls that were crumbling down and there were many unsanitary, unsafe, and unsettling aspects to Black schools. After collecting evidence, Houston decided on a strategy to tackle the problem of segregated, and unequal schools. He started with graduate schools, specifically law schools. He believed that the judges might be more sympathetic towards those opposing the law if they went to law school, and law school was the issue on the table. This worked. Many law schools were integrated after Houston took the issue to court. Houston died from a heart attack on April 22, 1950. Four years later, because of his work, the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education integrated schools in America. After his death, he was awarded the NAACP's Spingarn medal and Howard University School of Law's main building was named the Charles Hamilton Houston Hall after Houston.

Charles Hamilton Houston was responsible for the ending of segregation, and he helped to lead the way of revolutionary attorney and Justice, Thurgood Marshall.