Charles Hamilton Houston (September 3, 1895-April 22, 1950) was a black lawyer who helped play a role in dismantling the Jim Crow laws and helped train future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall. Known as “The Man Who Killed Jim Crow”, he played a role in nearly every civil rights case before the Supreme Court between 1930 and Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Houston’s brilliant plan to attack and defeat Jim Crow segregation by using the inequality of the “separate but equal” doctrine (from the Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson decision) as it pertained to public education in the United States was the master stroke that brought about the landmark Brown decision.
Born 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.opps
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. In 1922, he became the first African-American to serve as an editor of the Harvard Law Review.