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We salute the vision, courage, intellectual heft and also hard job-related of the lawyers who conceived, developed and executed the arrangement to dismantle “separate but equal” in American life. Following are quick biographies on some of the leading lamp of the legitimate team.

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Known colloquially and also affectionately together “Mr. Polite Rights,” Thurgood Marshall to be the leading architect of the strategy that finished state-sponsored segregation. Marshall founded LDF in 1940 and served as its an initial Director-Counsel.


Marshall to be the vital strategist in the initiative to end racial segregation, in particular meticulously complicated Plessy v. Ferguson, the Court-sanctioned legal theory that referred to as for “separate however equal” structures. Marshall winner a series of court decisions that slowly struck down that doctrine, eventually leading to Brown v. Plank of Education, i m sorry he suggested before the supreme Court in 1952 and 1953, ultimately overturning “separate but equal” and also acknowledging the segregation greatly lessened students’ self-esteem. Asked by justice Felix Frankfurter during the argument what he expected by “equal,” Mr. Marshall replied, “Equal means getting the exact same thing, at the very same time, and also in the very same place.”

The only thing have the right to be is an innate determination that the people who were formerly in slavery, regardless of something else, chandelier be kept as near that phase as is possible, and now is the time, us submit, that this Court should make it clear the that is not what our structure stands for.

Marshall constantly traveled to small, dusty, scorching courtrooms transparent the southern at one point, overseeing as countless as 450 simultaneous cases. Among other major victories, he successfully tested whites-only primary elections in Texas in enhancement to a instance in i m sorry the supreme Court claimed that limit covenants that barred Black world from purchase or renting homes can not be imposed in state courts. The eventually ended up being the an initial African American justice on the supreme Court the the united States.


Jack Greenberg prospered Thurgood Marshall together LDF’s second Director-Counsel indigenous 1961-84. Greenberg very first joined LDF in 1949 together a 24-year-old Columbia regulation School graduate. In ~ the time, Marshall was searching for an assistant to assist fight Jim Crow. A couple of years later, a 27-year-old Greenberg came to be the youngest member of the team of lawyers that lugged the Brown college desegregation situations to the can be fried Court.


At LDF, Greenberg served as an assistant counsel native 1949-61 under the aegis the Thurgood Marshall. That litigated the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case that overturned the “separate however equal” doctrine. In total, he said some 40 cases prior to the supreme Court, consisting of Alexander v. Holmes County plank of education and learning which mandated segregated school systems to desegregate “at once” and Griggs v. Duke Power Company, which prohibited relying top top employment and promotion decisions on the results of tests with discriminatory impact.


He score a major victory in Furman v. Georgia in i beg your pardon the supreme Court hosted that the fatality penalty violated the “cruel and also unusual punishment” clause of the Eighth Amendment. He additionally litigated Meredith v. Fair in 1961, which brought about James Meredith’s integration of the university of Mississippi.


Constance Baker Motley, who ended up being the very first Black mrs to serve as a federal judge, earned her reputation together the chef courtroom strategist the the civil legal rights movement. In addition to successfully litigating situations that ended segregation in Memphis restaurants and also at whites-only having lunch counters in Birmingham, Alabama, Motley defended Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s best to march in Albany, Georgia.


In addition, Motley played an essential role in representing black students seeking join to the colleges of Florida, Georgia Alabama and Mississippi and also Clemson college in southern Carolina; she claimed her best professional achievement was the reinstatement the 1,100 Black children in Birmingham who had been expelled for taking component in street demonstrations in the feather of 1963.

Motley command the legal campaign that brought about the admission of James H. Meredith to the university of Mississippi in 1962. She argued 10 cases before the United claims Supreme Court and also won nine of them. Motley was the first Black woman to offer in the new York State Senate, as well as the an initial woman to it is in Manhattan borough president.


In 1941, Robert Carter, a indigenous of Florida, to be drafted into the military; but the racial prejudice he experienced there compelled the to sign up with LDF. After ~ his relax from the military in 1944, Carter came to be a legitimate assistant come Thurgood Marshall, and also the adhering to year he came to be an assistant distinct counsel. Carter served as lead attorney in the Topeka institution desegregation case, one of the five situations which were consolidated to type Brown. In addition, Carter offered as one of the command attorneys on Sweatt v. Painter and Brown, as well as many other cases. In 1972, chairman Nixon appointed him as a judge on the U.S. Ar Court because that the southern District of brand-new York. He offered on that bench for practically 40 years with good distinction. 


Judge Carter, who died in 2012, held adjunct faculty location at the university of Michigan and brand-new York University legislation Schools, and also in Yale University’s graduate school. He won an unmatched 21 that the 22 cases that he said before the can be fried Court. The cases show up in every constitutional regulation textbook and their surname announce the death of a gyeongju order the disgraced this nation. Every situation was a fatality struggle the pitted what America was versus what America need to be.

“As ns take the measure up of my life and experience, the is, at a an individual level, a story that struggle and also triumph. V the support of family and also community, i overcame the boundaries of gyeongju exclusion, discrimination, and also poverty to come to be a leading civil rights lawyer and ultimately a federal judge. Brown v. Plank sits in ~ the facility of mine career and of what has been a lifelong struggle against racial inequities and also injustice. My initiatives and success have been celebrated in current years with many awards and honorary degrees. If this has actually been an extremely gratifying, because that me these have likewise been occasions for setting our sights top top what continues to be to be done to rid this country of the vestiges of white supremacy."

Throughout his long and rich life, the has tested the regulations of our land and the conscience of our country. He has actually stood increase for whatever that is essential to make America truly one, indivisible and equal. 

President invoice Clinton

Oliver Hill, born in Richmond, Virginia, to visit Howard University and Howard University law School where he i graduated salutatorian in the exact same year that his close friend Thurgood Marshall graduated as valedictorian. Together a lawyer in Virginia, he allegedly filed an ext civil rights lawsuits in that state than the total filed in all other Southern states throughout the Jim raven era. Additionally, The Washington write-up estimated that Hill’s team was responsible for winning much more than $50 million because that African American students and also teachers in greater salaries, brand-new buses and much better schools.


In 1940, Hill secured his first civil rights victory in Alston v. Institution Board the Norfolk, Va. That mandated same pay because that African American and also white teachers. In 1948, Hill and also Spottswood Robinson filed dozens of cases against school districts transparent the state, through as many as 75 pending at one time. Hill additionally argued Davis v. School Board the Prince Edward ar a sue on instead of of student protesting terrible conditions at their segregated high school. This came to be one the five instances decided under Brown.

Charles Hamilton Houston played an invaluable role in dismantling segregation and also mentoring the crop of civil legal rights lawyers who would ultimately litigate and win Brown v board of Education. In ~ Howard legislation School, he offered as Thurgood Marshall’s mentor and his eventual employer at the NAACP legit Defense Fund. Mordecai Johnson, the very first African American president of Howard University, called Houston to lead the legislation school in 1929.


Houston was involved in practically every civil rights case prior to the can be fried Court between 1930 and 1954. The is credited with developing the strategy the ultimately finished Jim Crow. Starting by attack segregation in regulation schools by forcing claims to either produce costly parallel legislation schools or incorporate the present ones, the chipped far at the facade that Jim Crow. Houston famously explained the duty of a lawyer together “either a social engineer or a parasite on society.” He died in 1950.

James Nabrit Jr. Graduated from Morehouse College and Northwestern University regulation School. That taught law at Howard University law School and was attributed with producing the an initial formal civil civil liberties course in any law school in the country. Amongst many various other accomplishments, Nabrit’s most considerable legal success was Bolling v. Sharpe, which challenged Washington D.C.’s public school segregation.


After shedding the case prior to the commonwealth District Court for the ar of Columbia, NAACP LDF appealed the instance to the supreme Court together it all at once heard the Brown cases. The court approve its decisions in Bolling v. Sharpe on may 17, 1954. The can be fried Court ruled the segregation in Washington D.C. Public colleges was unconstitutional based upon the due procedure clause that the 5th Amendment, rather of the equal defense clause of the 14th amendment. Nabrit additionally won two major voting cases before the can be fried Court, lane v. Wilson, one Oklahoma voter registration case, and Terry v. Adams, a case around the appropriate of afri Americans to vote in primary elections in Texas.

Spottswood Robinson to be born in Richmond, Virginia, and also attended Virginia Union University and Howard University institution of law where he graduated as valedictorian. In ~ LDF, Robinson was connected in Brown litigation, and also Chance v. Lambeth, which tested racial distinction in interstate transportation in addition to spearheading the Virginia desegregation instance in Brown.


After complaining about inadequate facilities, black students at R.R. Moton High college in Prince Edward County, Virginia went on win in 1951. Robinson educated the students the if a an essential mass of parental would sign up with a lawsuit, LDF would record the case. Virtually a month ~ the win started, Robinson filed the situation in the U.S. District Court in Richmond. Many of the parents at some point lost your jobs, bank loans, or farms as a result of joining the lawsuit. Notably, Prince Edward county closed the public institutions for a number of years in defiance of assignment to combine as stipulated by the can be fried Court’s Brown decision.

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Robinson came to be Dean of Howard University college of Law and also a member that the United states Commission top top Civil legal rights from 1961 to 1963. In 1964, Robinson was appointed to the United says District Court for the ar of Columbia and was elevated two years later on by chairman Johnson come the D.C. Circuit Court. That eventually became chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court. He to be the first African-American to host each of this positions.