Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association


History of the Black Attorney


The History of the Black Attorney is divided into three parts:

  1. Part 1 outlines various publications concerning Black legal history.
  2. Part 2 contains a list of significant black attorneys on a national scale.
  3. Part 3 is a list of names of successful black attorneys, both local and international.

Law Journal Articles | Books | Museum Exhibits | Websites |

The Collection of information represented here are a result of citations or links. It is meant to inspire you to continue your own search in to the History of Black Attorneys rather than to be a complete selection of all the relevant information then available. As a result, the resources selected are for convenience rather than an actual endorsement of the content of the site. We hope that this page will serve as a valuable resource for your own discovery of the History of Black Attorneys.

Law Review Articles

  • Nathaniel R. Jones. The Sisyphean Impact on Houstonian Jurisprudence. 69 University of Cincinnati Law Review 435 (2001).
  • A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Reflections on the impact of Charles Hamilton Houston – from a unique perspective. (Charles Hamilton Houston Symposium) 27 New Eng. L. Rev. 605 (1993).
  • J. Clay Smith, Jr., Justice, Jurisprudence, and the Black Lawyer, 69 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1077 (1994).
  • J. Clay Smith, Jr., Thurgood Marshall: An Heir of Charles Hamilton Houston, 20 Hastings Constitutional L.Q. 503 (1993).
  • Frederick Dunn. The Educational Philosophies of Washington, Dubois, and Houston: Laying the Foundations for Afrocentrism and Multiculturalism. 62 Journal of Negro Education 24 (1993).
  • Mark Tushnet. The politics of equality in constitutional law: the equal protection clause, Dr. Du Bois, and Charles Hamilton Houston. 74 Journal of American History 884 (1987).
  • Kluger, Richard. The Legal Scholar Who Plotted the Road to Integrated Education. Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 66-69 Sum 1994
  • Robert L. Carter, William T. Coleman Jr., Jack Greenberg, Genna Rae McNeil, J. Clay Smith Jr., In tribute: Charles Hamilton Houston. 111 Harv. L. Rev. 2167 (1998).
  • Remembered Hero, Forgotten Contribution: Charles Hamilton Houston, Legal Realism, and Labor Law. (A Tribute to Charles Hamilton Houston) J. Clay Smith Jr., E. Desmond Hogan. 14 Harvard Blackletter Law Journal Spring 1 (1998).
  • Wielding the double-edged sword: Charles Hamilton Houston and judicial activism in the age of legal realism.(A Tribute to Charles Hamilton Houston) Roger A. Fairfax Jr. Ibid.
  • Alfred Gene Burton Jr. Charles Hamilton Houston: Unsung Civil Rights Hero. 84 Illinois Bar Journal 423 (1996).
  • (Charles Hamilton Houston Commemorative Issue) 32 Howard Law Journal 468 (1998).
  • (Charles Hamilton Houston Commemorative Issue) 32 Howard Law Journal 479 (1989).
  • Michael Wilson Reed. The contribution of Charles Hamilton Houston to American jurisprudence. 30 Howard Law Journal 1095 (1987).


  • Smith, J. Clay, Jr. Rebels In Law: Voices in History of Black Women Lawyers, Ann Arbor University of Michigan Press, 1998.
  • Great African-American Lawyers: Raising the Bar of Freedom
  • Carole Boston Boston Weatherford Hardcover, January 2003
  • Motley, Constance Baker , Equal Justice under Law: An Autobiography, Paperback – 1 PBK ED, September 1999
  • A. Leon Higginbotham, Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process Race and the American Legal Process, Volume II
  • A. Leon Higginbotham, In the Matter of Color 
  • Race and the American Legal Process 1: The Colonial Period
  • Geraldine R. Segal, Blacks in the law : Philadelphia and the Nationforeword by A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. 1983
  • Smith, J. Clay. Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer, 1844-1944. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993. KF299.A35 S65 1993
  • McNeil, Genna Rae. Groundwork: Charles Hamilton Houston and the struggle for civil rights. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983. KF 373 H644 M3 1983
  • Greenberg, Jack. Crusaders in the courts: how a dedicated band of lawyers fought for the civil rights revolution. New York, NY: BasicBooks, 1994. KF4757 .G699 1994
  • Tushnet, Mark V. The NAACP’s legal strategy against segregated education, 1925-1950. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 1987. KF4155 .T87 1987

Museum Exhibits

The Damon J. Keith Collection of African American Legal History at Wayne State University Law School was created to meet the need for a central repository for the nation’s African American legal history. The collection, initiated by Professor Emeritus Edward J. Littlejohn, is dedicated to recording the history of African American lawyers and judges. It will be in the DC Metro Area Summer 2004:


May 3, 2004 – July 29, 2004
Exhibition Marching Toward Justice
50th Anniversary Celebration of
Brown vs. Board of Education 

Howard University School of Law
2900 Van Ness St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

The Marching Toward Justice Exhibit was created by the Damon J. Keith Collection to inform the public about the fundamental importance of the 14th Amendment and our nation’s ongoing quest to realize the high ideals of the Declaration of Independence. It tells the story of our government’s promotion of justice and equality for some, while condoning the enslavement of others.

The Smithsonian: On Dec. 16, 2003, President George W. Bush signed legislation to create a National Museum of African American History and Culture within the Smithsonian Institution. This new museum will be devoted to the documentation of African American life, art, history and culture. The Institute provides a list internet sources to African American History and Culture. You can also explore a list of African American Heritage resources at the Smithsonian.

Other Museums: A working list of African American History Museums is available from AcademicInfo.Net and


The Just the Beginning Foundation (JTBF) From Slavery to the Supreme Court is a multi-racial organization of lawyers, judges, and other individuals formed in 1993 to commemorate, preserve, and educate the public about the contributions of African Americans to the federal judicial system. The foundation commemorates the contributions of African-Americans to the federal judiciary, and documents the experiences of African-American lawyers and judges. Since 1789, more than 2,540 Article III federal judges have been appointed in the United States. Of that number, only 106 have been African Americans. 

JTBF commemorates the contribution of African Americans to the federal judiciary; educates the public about the struggles and successes of African American lawyers and judges; collects preserve and disseminate historical and other information on African Americans in the federal judicial system; and provides financial support for students who exemplify JTBF’s goals, and demonstrate a commitment to public service.

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