Houston, Charles Hamilton (1895–1950)
Gloria J. Browne-Marshall
Charles Hamilton Houston, an African American attorney and teacher, was known as the architect of civil rights legislation. It was Houston's strategy for defeating racial segregation through the courts that led to the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. He is responsible for training or influencing the nation's early civil rights attorneys, including Thurgood Marshall, Spottswood Robinson, William Hastie, James Nabrit, and Oliver W. Hill. This entry reviews Houston's life, his academic training, and his substantive contributions to the civil rights movement. Charles Hamilton Houston was born September 3, 1895, in Washington, D.C., to William LePre Houston, an attorney, and Mary Ethel Hamilton Houston, a beautician. His birth came 1 year before the infamous U.S. Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which sanctioned racial segregation. William Houston was a renowned attorney who moved to Washington, D.C., in search of economic and cultural opportunities for his In ...