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Article

Ellis Goldberg

Egyptian jurist, government official, and author of one of the most important and controversial books of the twentieth century on Islam and politics, Islam and the Foundations of Governance. This short book, published in 1925, caused a storm of protest, and ʿAbd al-Raziq was arraigned before a jury of Egyptian religious leaders (including the grandfather of the late-twentieth-century al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri) and officially stripped of his status as a religious scholar (ʿalim).

Abd al-Raziq was born in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya to a well-known and relatively well-off family. He studied at Al-Azhar University. Although he was too young to have known the prominent Egyptian ʿalim Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), his work appears to have been influenced by Abduh’s break with prevailing orthodoxy. Abduh was the highest jurisconsult (mufti) in Egypt at the time of his death. In 1915 ʿAbd al Raziq became a ...

Article

Ebenezer Ayesu

lawyer, chief judge, and president of Ghana, was born at Dodowa in the Greater Accra region of the Gold Cost (now Ghana) on 26 June 1906. His father was William Martin Addo-Danquah of Akropong, Akuapem. His mother was Theodora Amuafi, also from Akropong, Akuapem. After receiving his elementary education at the Presbyterian primary and middle schools at Dodowa, he enrolled in Achimota College in 1929, from where he was awarded scholarship to study mathematics, philosophy, and politics at Saint Peter’s College, Oxford University. Akuffo-Addo was one of the first students at Saint Peter’s College, matriculating in 1930, a year after the college was established. He went on to graduate with honors in philosophy and politics in 1933. He was later made an honorary fellow of the college, and in 1971 he was made a doctor of civil law at Oxford University.

In 1940 Akuffo Addo ...

Article

André Willis

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Alexander graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1920 and Harvard Law School in 1923, a time when very few African Americans gained admittance to Ivy League schools. Alexander enjoyed a successful career in private practice, directly challenging racism and discrimination and helping end segregation in a number of Philadelphia institutions, before becoming counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Between 1933 and 1935 Alexander served as president of the National Bar Association and sought a federal appointment. Although the prevailing racial climate made it difficult for him to break into national politics, Alexander was appointed honorary consul to the Republic of Haiti in 1938. He was considered for an ambassadorship to Ethiopia in 1951, but although he had President Truman's support, he was not confirmed. From 1951 to 1958 Alexander committed himself to ...

Article

David Alvin Canton

lawyer and judge, was the third of five children born to Hillard Boone Alexander, a laborer from Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and Virginia Pace, from Essex County, Virginia. Alexander's parents were born slaves, but were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment following the Civil War. In 1880 they migrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they lived in the Seventh Ward, a community that would later be made famous by W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal 1899 study The Philadelphia Negro. In 1903Alexander's mother died of pneumonia. Because his father worked long hours, Alexander and his siblings moved to North Philadelphia to live with his maternal aunt, Georgia Chandler Pace From the age of seven Alexander attended school and worked at various jobs including dockworker newspaper boy general helper at the Metropolitan Opera House in North Philadelphia Pullman porter and when he was in his early twenties ...

Article

Matthew LeRiche

Sudanese judge and politician, was born in Bor, then a district of Upper Nile Province. Alier emerged as a prominent member of the Bor Dinka tribe and the southern Sudanese community more generally. He attended the renowned Rumbek Secondary School, which educated many southern Sudanese leaders. He also attended the Wad Saidna school in northern Sudan. His success in early education lead Alier to attend law school at the University of Khartoum and upon high achievement there was able to undertake and receive a Masters degree from the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Yale University, in the United States. He was also a research fellow in Land Law in the School of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, from 1961 to 1962. In recognition for his role in government and achievements in academia the universities of Khartoum and Juba gave Alier an honorary doctor of laws.

After completing his ...

Article

Sibyl Collins Wilson

lawyer, State Supreme Court Justice, mayor of Detroit, Michigan, and president of the American Bar Association, was born in Detroit to Ernest and Frances Archer, and was raised in Cassopolis, Michigan. Determined to raise himself from poverty, and encouraged by his parents to value education, Archer was steadfast in his studies. He graduated from Cassopolis High School in 1959 and entered Western Michigan University that fall. While attending Western Michigan he pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the first black collegiate fraternal organization. He graduated in 1965.

Archer had a desire to teach, so he relocated to Detroit and took a position in the Detroit schools teaching and assisting emotionally disturbed students. He met Trudy Duncombe, another young teacher, during this tenure, and they married on 17 June 1967 Although dedicated to education Archer began to prepare himself for another level of public service when he entered ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Born in Salvador, Bahia, Rui Barbosa de Oliveira studied at the law academies of Recife and São Paulo, where he met Antônio de Castro Alves, the “Poet of the Slaves,” and future abolitionist Joaquim Nabuco. Barbosa's abolitionist campaign began in 1869, when he organized the conference “O Elemento Servil” (The Servile Element). Although the slave trade had been outlawed on November 7, 1831, slaves who had entered Brazil before that time remained in bondage, and many Africans had since been illegally enslaved. At the Elemento Servil conference, Barbosa condemned slavery on legal grounds by invoking this 1831 law.

In the following years Barbosa frequently challenged the proslavery Conservative Party. During the provincial elections of 1874 he criticized the Free Womb Law, which freed the children of all female slaves, as “a superficial improvement.” In 1884 he joined a reform cabinet led by Manoel Dantas ...

Article

Harold N. Burdett

jurist and civil rights activist, was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the son of Thomas Bell, a construction worker, and Rosa Lee (Jordan) Bell, a health-care practitioner and the daughter of sharecroppers. In the mid-1940s Robert M. Bell, his parents, and two older brothers moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he entered public schools.

As a sixteen-year-old student at Baltimore's Dunbar High School, Bell was recruited by the Civic Interest Group, a student integrationist organization, along with classmates and students from the historically black Morgan State College, to enter whites-only restaurants and request service. Years later Bell recalled that at the time he did not tell his mother what he was doing because he considered it a “high risk” undertaking (Cox).

On 17 June 1960 some five months after the historic sit in demonstrations at a segregated Woolworth s lunch counter in Greensboro North Carolina Bell ...

Article

Cheryl Dudley

attorney, judge, and civil rights activist, was born in Huntington, West Virginia, to the Reverend William Roderick Brown and Maria Wiggins Rowlett Brown. He attended Virginia Union University in Richmond and in 1923 earned a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh, graduating third in a class of twenty-two students.

Following his graduation in October 1923, Brown joined the Allegheny County Bar Association and became active in his community to reduce crime and improve the quality of life for youth. He married Wilhelmina Byrd in 1927, and the couple had one son, Byrd Rowlett Brown who also became a well known attorney and civil rights activist in Pittsburgh During the 1930s when there was an increase in crime as a result of the Great Depression Brown chaired the Friendly Service Bureau a committee established to help reduce crime in Pittsburgh Along with the help of the ...

Article

David Michel

minister and activist, was born to Archibald J. Carey Sr., a Methodist minister, and Elizabeth Davis Carey in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Doolittle Elementary School and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1925. As a youth Carey exhibited strong speaking skills and won the Chicago Daily News Oratorical Contest in 1924. In his adolescent years he was much influenced by his father, a staunch Republican politician, who took him to a private meeting with President Theodore Roosevelt.

After high school the young Carey pursued his education at the local Lewis Institute, where he earned a BS in 1928. He married Hazel Harper Carey, with whom he had one daughter, Carolyn. In 1929 he was ordained by his father who had become a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal AME Church The following year Carey was assigned to the Woodlawn AME Church in ...

Article

Sean Patrick Adams

Salmon Portland Chase was born in New Hampshire. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1826 and eventually set up a successful law practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. After defending the freedom of several escaped slaves in Ohio, Chase became more involved in the growing antislavery movement of the 1830s and 1840s. He first affiliated himself with the Liberty Party and attempted to shape it into more than a single-issue antislavery organization. Throughout his political career, Chase was able to hold a curious balance between political idealism and aggressive self-promotion. His performance in the 1848 convention that resulted in the formation of the Free Soil Party was a case in point Chase gained national prominence in his role as chair of the convention and proved to be an effective coalition builder Although he was not satisfied with the narrow goals of the Free Soil movement he was willing to ...

Article

Donnamaria Culbreth

lawyer, judge, professor of law, and civil rights activist, was born on a plantation near Shreveport, Louisiana. Nothing is known about Cobb's parents, except that his mother was white and his father black. Orphaned at an early age, Cobb worked various jobs and was eventually able to save enough money to attend private schools. Cobb studied at Straight University (later Dillard University) in New Orleans and Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. After relocating to Washington, D.C., Cobb continued his education and graduated from Howard University with a bachelor of law degree in 1899. In 1900 Cobb was awarded a JD from Howard University School of Law.

Cobb was admitted to the Washington, D.C., bar in 1901 and began practicing law. His practice primarily involved handling racial discrimination cases on behalf of black Americans. In 1907 Cobb was appointed special assistant in the U S Department of Justice and ...

Article

Joseph Wilson

a leading African American attorney, judge, and congressman from Detroit, Michigan. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, George Crockett graduated from Morehouse College and the University of Michigan Law School. Subsequently he started a law practice and later was a cofounder of the National Lawyers Guild, the nation's first racially integrated lawyers' organization which he then served as vice president. In 1939, Crockett became the first African American attorney in the United States Department of Labor and, later, in the Federal Employment Practices Commission. In 1943, he directed the United Auto Workers' Fair Practices Commission, which sought to prevent white workers from engaging in “hate” strikes designed to bar black workers from working in auto plants.

In 1946 in Detroit, he helped form the country's first integrated law firm (Goodman, Eden, Crockett and Robb) and served as a partner until 1966. In 1949 Crockett was sentenced ...

Article

Ruth E. Martin

activist, attorney, judge, and United States congressman, was born in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, the son of Minnie Amelia Jenkins and George William Crockett Sr. The former was a licensed public school teacher, and the latter a railroad carpenter for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Baptist church pastor.

George Crockett Jr. graduated from Morehouse College in 1931, and the University of Michigan Law School in 1934, before returning to Jacksonville. He was one of a small number of practicing African American attorneys in Florida at this time. In 1934 he married Ethelene Crockett, with whom he would have three children, Elizabeth Crockett Hicks, George W. Crockett III, and Ethelene Crockett Jones.

Initiating a lifetime at the forefront of the civil rights legal struggle, Crockett was the first African American lawyer employed by the U.S. Department of Labor, from 1939 ...

Article

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, George William Crockett, Jr. graduated with a B.A. degree from Morehouse College in 1931 and a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1934. After several years in private practice, in 1939 he became the first African American lawyer at the U.S. Department of Labor. Beginning in 1943 Crockett served as a hearing examiner for the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), a federal agency that attempted to secure more jobs for African Americans in wartime industries. His work with the FEPC led to a position as head of the United Auto Worker's Fair Practices Committee, which sought to eliminate racism in factories.

Throughout his long career Crockett acted according to his often-unpopular beliefs, which led to occasional controversy. In 1949, while once again in private practice (as a founding partner in the first law firm with an integrated partnership in Detroit Michigan ...

Article

Robert Hinton

lawyer, judge, politician, and civil rights advocate, was born Hubert Thomas Delaney in Raleigh, North Carolina, the eighth of ten children of Nanny Logan Delany and the Episcopal Suffragan Bishop Henry Beard Delany.

Until he was fourteen years old Delany assumed that he would follow his father into the priesthood of the Episcopal Church. But in 1915 Delany visited Christ Church on Capitol Square in Raleigh to hear a choir that accompanied a prominent bishop from New York. Much to his surprise he was guided into the gallery by an usher who asked the young man why he didn't attend Saint Ambrose, the colored Episcopal church.

Having grown up on the campus of historically black Saint Augustine's College where his parents taught, Hubert Delany had until that moment been protected from the rigid system of racial segregation that gripped North Carolina in the early twentieth ...

Article

Erin L. Thompson

jurist and activist. Hubert Thomas Delany was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. His father, Henry B. Delany, was a former slave and a bishop of the Episcopal Church; his mother, Nanny J. Delany, was a teacher. While attending the City College of New York (graduated 1923) and New York University School of Law (graduated 1926), Delany worked at tobacco farms in Connecticut and taught in Harlem elementary schools. His first wife, Clarissa Scott Delany, from Tuskegee, Alabama, was a poet and a social worker with the National Urban League and Woman's City Club of New York; she died in 1927.

In 1929 Delany unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Manhattan's Twenty-first District, which included much of Harlem and Washington Heights. His early career was not otherwise political, concentrating mostly on private practice. Among his most well-known clients was the singer Marian Anderson with ...

Article

DeCarlous Spearman

attorney, judge, poet, and activist, was one of ten children born to Albert, a laborer, and Mary Burleson Doyle, a laundress, in a four room house in Austin, Texas. In 1928 Doyle graduated Salutatorian from Anderson High School and magna cum laude from Samuel Huston College (later Huston-Tillotson College) in 1933. After college he taught in the Austin public school system and later took graduate courses at Columbia University.

On 4 March 1947 the Texas State University for Negroes (later Texas Southern University) was established to keep Heman Sweatt, a black applicant, from entering law school at the University of Texas (UT). This new school offered something unavailable to blacks in Texas, the opportunity to attend law school in their own state. On 22 September 1947 Doyle was the first student to register at the new law school This would be ...

Article

Michael L. Krenn

diplomat, was born in South Boston, Virginia, the son of Edward and Nellie Dudley. Dudley spent most of his early years in Virginia and then went on to earn his BS from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. His original plans for a career as a dentist went unfulfilled, however, and during the harshest years of the Great Depression, Dudley took up a variety of jobs, including as a public school teacher and as a real estate salesman. He eventually ended up in New York City, where for a short time he was able to gain employment with the Works Progress Administration's federal theater project. Dudley returned to school and earned his law degree from St. John's University in 1941 He had become active in New York Democratic Party politics and his hard work resulted in his appointment as New York State assistant attorney general ...

Article

James Jankowski

Egyptian lawyer, judge, and nationalist leader, was born in the delta village of Kafr al-Musayliha in Minufiyya Province on 23 December 1870. Son of a prominent landowning family, Fahmi was educated at first in the traditional educational system of his village primary school (kuttab), the Ahmadi Mosque in Tanta, and al-Azhar, but later entered the secular school system, attending the Khedival Secondary School in Cairo, and graduating from the School of Administration in 1890.

After working in the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Administration of Waqfs through the 1890s, in 1903 Fahmi opened a private law practice. He was elected to the new Legislative Assembly in 1913. One of Egypt’s most distinguished lawyers, in 1914 Fahmi became president of the Egyptian Bar Association for the first time he would hold this position twice more in later years He also served as president of the ...