a central figure in the civil rights and human rights movement in the United States as an activist, attorney, and scholar. Born in New York City in 1940, William Haywood Burns helped integrate the swimming pool in Peekskill, New York, at fifteen years of age and was a leader in the struggle for human rights and civil rights over the next four decades. He graduated from Harvard College in 1962. As a law student at Yale University, he participated in the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi. He already had authored The Voices of Negro Protest (1963), which critiqued the leadership and mass character of the civil rights movement, and throughout his career he contributed chapters to other books. He was assistant counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in the late 1960s. Later he served as general counsel to Martin Luther King Jr.'s ...
Joseph Wilson and David Addams
Stephen Gilroy Hall
John Wesley Cromwell was born a slave in Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of Willis Hodges Cromwell, a ferry operator, and Elizabeth Carney. In 1851 Cromwell's father purchased the family's freedom and moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Cromwell entered the public schools. In 1856 he was admitted to the Preparatory Department of the Institute of Colored Youth. Graduating in 1864, he embarked on a teaching career. He taught in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and in 1865 opened a private school in Portsmouth Virginia Cromwell left teaching temporarily after an assault in which he was shot at and his school burned down He returned to Philadelphia and was employed by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Intellectual Improvement of Colored People Then he served as an agent for the American Missionary Association and went back to Virginia He became active in local politics serving as a ...
Stephen Gilroy Hall
lawyer and historian, was born a slave in Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of Willis Hodges Cromwell, a ferry operator, and Elizabeth Carney. In 1851Cromwell's father purchased the family's freedom and moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Cromwell attended public school. In 1856 he was admitted to the Preparatory Department of the Institute of Colored Youth. Graduating in 1864, he embarked on a teaching career. He taught in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and in 1865 opened a private school in Portsmouth, Virginia. Cromwell left teaching temporarily after an assault in which he was shot at and his school burned down. He returned to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was employed by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Intellectual Improvement of Colored People. Then he served as an agent for the American Missionary Association and went back to Virginia. In 1867 he became active in local politics serving as a ...
attorney, politician, and author, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the eldest son of Jacob Henry and Rosalie Davis. When he was eighteen years old he enlisted in the army, advancing to first lieutenant of Company D, Ninth Battalion, Ohio National Guard. In 1904 he attended Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio, but later transferred to Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he graduated with a law degree in 1908. In 1909, utilizing an 1896 Ohio civil rights law, Davis brought racial discrimination charges against a Burrows store merchant who refused to sell to him. The merchant was found guilty, and though the jury denied Davis damages, he considered this a small victory for the civil rights movement.
Davis spent his entire life in Cleveland, working as an attorney. Realizing his love of history, in 1910 Davis joined a Masonic lodge through which he conducted ...
Leland Conley Barrows
Beninese jurist, historian, international civil servant, human rights activist, and chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Benin, was born on 15 March 1934 in the town of Zinvié, not far from Abomey, the former royal capital of the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey. Because Glélé’s intellectual talents were recognized by his Roman Catholic primary school teachers, he was enabled to complete his secondary education at the Lycée van Vollenhoven in Dakar, Senegal, where he earned the lettres classiques baccalaureate in 1955. After a year of studying law at the newly founded University of Dakar, he entered the preparatory section of the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris in order to qualify, in 1958, for the diploma of civil administration, awarded by the National School for the Training of Overseas Administrators (the former École Coloniale). He then went on to earn the licence in law in 1960 ...
William Henry Hastie's father, a pension clerk, and his mother, a teacher, taught him to oppose racial discrimination. The family moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Hastie was born, to Washington, D.C., in 1916. Hastie was valedictorian at Dunbar High School, one of the leading African American secondary schools in the country. He was senior class president at Amherst College in 1925, and graduated as valedictorian again. After teaching for two years, he returned to school and earned a law degree from Harvard University in 1930.
Hastie practiced law in Washington with his father, fighting university segregation. At night, he taught at Howard University Law School. Among his students, many of whom played important roles in the Civil Rights Movement, was Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African American justice on the United States Supreme Court. From 1933 to 1937 Hastie was assistant ...
civil rights attorney, law school professor, and federal judge, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Roberta Childs, a teacher, and William Henry Hastie, a clerk in the U.S. Pension Office (now the Veterans Administration). He was a superb student and athlete. His father's transfer to Washington, D.C., in 1916 permitted Hastie to attend the nation's best black secondary school, the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, from which he graduated as valedictorian in 1921. He attended Amherst College, where he majored in mathematics and graduated in 1925, valedictorian, Phi Beta Kappa, and magna cum laude. After teaching for two years in Bordentown, New Jersey, he studied law at Harvard University, where one instructor adopted the custom of saying after asking a question of the class, “Mr. Hastie, give them the answer” (Ware, 30). He worked on the Law Review and earned an ...
legal educator, civil rights advocate, judge, and governor. William Henry Hastie was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the only child of a middle-class, college-educated black couple, Roberta Childs and William Henry Hastie, who moved to Washington, D.C., to give their son a better education. There the young Hastie graduated from Dunbar High School in 1921 and entered Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he ran track and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude in 1925.
Giving up opportunities to study at Oxford University or the University of Paris, Hastie instead taught for two years at the New Jersey Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth. In 1927 he continued his education at Harvard Law School, studying under the future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter and earning his bachelor of laws (LLB) degree in 1930 Hastie moved to Washington D C and both worked ...
When Anita Hill stood before the Senate committee and testified that she had been sexually harassed by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, she initially expected to be believed. As a lawyer, she expected to be questioned. She did not, however, expect to be virulently attacked, to trigger national debates, and finally to emerge as a leading voice on standing up to the abuse of power. In short, she expected to have her say, not to change the nation.
Anita Hill was born on her parents’ farm near Lone Tree, Oklahoma. When she was young, the house did not have running water, and a telephone was not installed until she was a teenager. She was the youngest of thirteen children of Albert and Irma Hill who were hardworking religious people Uneducated themselves they believed education was the way for their children to get ahead Anita attended public schools ...
Mary Krane Derr
lawyer and educator, was born in rural Lone Tree, Okmulgee County, eastern Oklahoma, near Tulsa. Known as Faye to family and friends, she was the great-granddaughter of slaves and the youngest of thirteen children born to farmers Albert and Erma Hill. Faye grew up in the Baptist Church and remained within that congregation. An excellent student and avid reader, she attended Eram Grade School and in 1973 became the fourth child from her family to be selected as valedictorian at the local Morris High School.
In 1977 Hill earned her B.S. in psychology with honors from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. On a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) scholarship, she left Oklahoma for the vastly different environment of Yale University Law School, where many classmates had enjoyed considerable financial and social advantages from birth. Graduating with her J.D. in 1980 Hill felt no ...
Anita Hill was born in Morris, Oklahoma, to Irma Hill and Albert Hill. She was valedictorian of her high school class. She completed a B.S. degree in psychology at Oklahoma State in 1977 and was one of 11 black students out of 160 graduates of Yale Law School in 1980. Her first position as a lawyer was in 1981 at Ward, Harkrader and Ross, a Washington, D.C., firm. Later that year she became an assistant to Clarence Thomas, who was head of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. In 1982 she joined him when he became chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In 1983 Hill left her job with the EEOC to join the faculty of Oral Roberts University as a law professor. In 1986 she accepted a position at the University of Oklahoma where she received ...
Genna Rae McNeil
lawyer and professor, was born in the District of Columbia, the son of William LePre Houston, a lawyer, and Mary Ethel Hamilton, a hairdresser and former schoolteacher. Houston graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Amherst College in 1915. After a year of teaching English at Howard University in Washington, D.C., he served during World War I as a second lieutenant in the 351st Field Artillery of the American Expeditionary Forces. Having experienced racial discrimination while serving his country, Houston “made up [his] mind that [he] would never get caught … without knowing … [his] rights, that [he] would study law and use [his] time fighting for men who could not strike back.” He entered Harvard Law School in 1919, where he became the first African American elected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, and in 1922 he earned an LLB cum laude ...
At Charles Hamilton Houston's 1950 memorial service, his cousin, federal judge William H. Hastie, eulogized him as “the Moses of our journey.” Referring to the hard-won victory against segregation, Houston's protégé and successor as National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chief counsel, Thurgood Marshall, described him as “the engineer of it all.” In his work at both the NAACP and at Howard University Law School, which, according to historian Richard Kluger, Houston made into “a living laboratory where civil-rights law was invented,” Houston was one of the most influential American lawyers of the twentieth century.
Houston was born in Washington, D.C., the only child of William and Mary Houston, and was raised in an atmosphere of racial and family pride. He graduated from the M Street School, the most academically rigorous black high school in the nation, and in 1911 entered ...
Thomas E. Carney
attorney and civil rights activist. Born in Washington, D.C., Charles Hamilton Houston was the son of Mary Hamilton Houston and William LePre Houston, an attorney in Washington. The young Houston graduated from M Street High School and received his bachelor's degree in 1915 from Amherst College, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. For two years after graduating he taught English at Howard University, and in 1917 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was sent to Europe but arrived just months before the armistice that ended World War I.
Houston left the military in 1918 and thereafter applied and was admitted to Harvard Law School. Houston was an outstanding student. He studied under Professor (later U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Felix Frankfurter and became the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review. He received his bachelor of law degree in 1922 and ...
historian and jurist, was born in Tadla in the region north of the Moroccan High Atlas. His full name was Abu Yaʿqub Yusuf ibn al-Zayyat al-Tadili. As a young man, al-Tadili was a follower of the venerated twelfth-century Moroccan mystic Abu ʾl-ʿAbbas al-Sabti (d. 1204). He received an education in the various fields of Islamic law, and he subsequently accepted the position of qadi among the Ragraga Berbers west of Marrakesh. Al-Tadili is best known for the hagiographical collection he authored, the Tashawwuf ila rijal al-tasawwuf, that includes biographical notices on 279 holy men and mystics who lived in North Africa from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries. Most of the mystics dealt with in the Tashawwuf were active in southern Morocco; however, there are several notices concerning prominent holy men from Fez, Meknes, Ceuta, Tlemcen, and Bijaya. Al-Tadili remarks in the prologue to the Tashawwuf that his ...
jurist, historian, and litterateur, was born in the city of Sabta (present-day Ceuta) to an Arab family with origins in the Yemen. ‘Iyad's training in the various branches of Islamic learning was remarkably thorough. He undertook his early education in Sabta at the hand of several scholars, including the jurist ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Isa and the faqih ‘Ali Abu Ishaq al-Fasi. He then traveled to al-Andalus, and there exists notice that he studied there with no fewer than a hundred scholars, among them several leading figures of the age, including the traditionist Abu ‘Ali al-Sadafi of Murcia (d. 1120/21), the jurist Abu al-Walid ibn Rushd of Cordoba (d. 1126), and the religious scholar and jurist Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi of Seville (d. 1148).
Unlike many of his fellow North Africans it appears that Iyad never made the journey to ...
the first African American to apply to the all‐white University of Virginia, educator and part‐time writer, was born Alice Carlotta Jackson in Richmond, Virginia, to James Edward Jackson, Sr. and Clara Louise Kersey Jackson. Her father was a local pharmacist in the Jackson Ward district of Richmond.
Alice Jackson received her education at two American Baptist Home Mission schools, Hartshorn Memorial College and Virginia Union University, both historically black educational institutions in Richmond. After Hartshorn closed its doors in 1930, Jackson attended Virginia Union University. In 1934, she completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Virginia Union University and also took a few other classes at Smith College in Massachusetts. In 1935 she applied for admission to the all white University of Virginia graduate school She was the first known African American to try to be admitted into a graduate or professional school in ...
Benjamin R. Justesen
lawyer, public official, legislator, and law school dean, was the youngest son of five children born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Matthew N. Leary, a successful saddler and a staunch abolitionist and philanthropist, and Julia A. Memorell (Menriel). Matthew Leary helped local slaves buy their freedom and often educated them, despite legal prohibitions on the practice. According to the 1850 federal census, he personally owned three slaves, though these were held for benevolent reasons.
John Leary's birth year is not certain; the 1850 census records his age as ten, although later reports indicate that he was born as late as 1849 His ethnic heritage was a blend of European Native American and African American lineage His mother a native of France migrated as a child to North Carolina from the Bahamas with her French mother His father whose family name had been shortened from ...
Born a slave in Louisiana and freed at the end of the Civil War, John Roy Lynch became active in Republican Party politics in 1867. His prominent career began with his election to the Mississippi legislature in 1869. Lynch became its Speaker in 1872.
As a U.S. Congressman in 1873, Lynch supported the Civil Rights Bill of 1875. He lost his seat in 1876, but regained it in 1882 after a contested election; Lynch was defeated in the following election later that year, but two years later, he gave the keynote address at the Republican National Convention. He went on to practice law and write The Facts of Reconstruction (1913).
See also Congress, African Americans in; United States House of Representatives, African Americans in.
Rodney P. Carlisle
U.S. congressman, historian, and attorney, was born on Tacony plantation near Vidalia, Louisiana, the son of Patrick Lynch, the manager of the plantation, and Catherine White, a slave. Patrick Lynch, an Irish immigrant, purchased his wife and two children, but in order to free them, existing state law required they leave Louisiana. Before Patrick Lynch died, he transferred the titles to his wife and children to a friend, William Deal, who promised to treat them as free persons. However, when Patrick Lynch died, Deal sold the family to a planter, Alfred W. Davis, in Natchez, Mississippi. When Davis learned of the conditions of the transfer to Deal, he agreed to allow Catherine Lynch to hire her own time while he honeymooned with his new wife in Europe Under this arrangement Catherine Lynch lived in Natchez worked for various employers and paid $3 50 ...