civil rights lawyer, law professor, and university president. James Madison Nabrit Jr., a dedicated civil rights lawyer, educator, and public servant, graduated from Northwestern University Law School and established a law practice in Houston, Texas, in the early 1930s. During this period, he represented Native Americans in cases involving oil and gas issues. He also developed an interest in civil rights law and was involved in cases relating to black voting rights. Nabrit joined the Howard University Law School faculty in 1936. He was among a small cadre of brilliant lawyers, centered at Howard, who led the fight to dismantle legal segregation in the United States. After serving as a law professor, dean of the law school, and university secretary at Howard during a twenty-four year period, Nabrit became president of the university in 1960.
James Madison Nabrit was born in Washington, D.C., to the Reverend James Madison and Gertrude Nabrit. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1923 and from Northwestern University Law School in 1927. In 1930 Nabrit moved to Houston, where he worked as a civil rights lawyer. Nabrit joined the faculty of Howard University Law School in 1936, where in 1938 he taught the first formal civil rights course in any law school in the United States. While a teacher and administrator at Howard from 1936 to 1960, Nabrit was involved in numerous civil rights cases including Bolling v. Sharpe, in which he and attorney George E. C. Hayes challenged segregation in the public schools of the District of Columbia. Bolling was ruled upon by the Supreme Court in conjunction with Brown v. Board of Education wherein the court found segregation to be unconstitutional In ...