Charles Hamilton Houston was a civil rights activist and lawyer who aided in the Civil Rights Movement. Photo provided by NCCU.

NCCU School of Law honors civil rights lawyer

April 22, 2024

N.C. Central University Professor Irving L. Joyner, held a lecture about Charles Hamilton Houston at the NCCU School of Law Building.

As part of the NCCU School of Law 85th Anniversary celebration, Professor Joyner paid tribute to Houston and his journey as a lawyer during the Jim Crow era.

According to Blackpast, Houston is recognized as ‘the architect of the civil rights strategy’ that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education. He also served as the first general counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Houston was a pioneering legal strategist who played a crucial role in dismantling racial segregation in the United States and dedicated his time in law to focus on social changes as well as challenge racial discrimination through litigation, according to the NCCU School of Law website.

Houston was big on law, he taught at Howard University. And became the Dean of Howard’s Law School.

Joyner said Houston had a profound impact on HBCUs in North Carolina.

“His dream was to recreate the Shaw dream, but his goal was much larger than that,” Joyner said.

Joyner also said that Houston mentored future civil rights attorneys while he was at Howard, such as Oliver Hall and future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

According to the NAACP, Houston exposed the hollowness of the Jim Crow era and paved the way for the Supreme Court ruling outlawing school segregation.

“The legal brilliance used to undercut the ‘separate but equal’ principle and champion other civil rights cases earned Houston the moniker The Man Who Killed Jim Crow,” NAACP wrote.

The impact Houston left on the Black community, continues to be felt 74 years after his death. Joyner said without figures like Houston, Jim Crow would’ve continued to destroy the Black community.

“Fortunately thanks to people like Houston and the contributions that he made, the Jim Crow era has been permanently destroyed,” Joyner said.

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Charles Hamilton Houston was a civil rights activist and lawyer who aided in the Civil Rights Movement. Photo provided by NCCU.
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