Test Cover Image of:  Groundwork


Charles Hamilton Houston and the Struggle for Civil Rights

Foreword by: A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.

"A classic. . . . [It] will make an extraordinary contribution to the improvement of race relations and the understanding of race and the American legal process."—Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., from the Foreword

Charles Hamilton Houston (1895-1950) left an indelible mark on American law and society. A brilliant lawyer and educator, he laid much of the legal foundation for the landmark civil rights decisions of the 1950s and 1960s. Many of the lawyers who won the greatest advances for civil rights in the courts, Justice Thurgood Marshall among them, were trained by Houston in his capacity as dean of the Howard University Law School. Politically Houston realized that blacks needed to develop their racial identity and also to recognize the class dimension inherent in their struggle for full civil rights as Americans.

Genna Rae McNeil is thorough and passionate in her treatment of Houston, evoking a rich family tradition as well as the courage, genius, and tenacity of a man largely responsible for the acts of "simple justice" that changed the course of American life.

Author Information

Genna Rae McNeil is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She received her Ph.D. degree from the University of Chicago.


"The coalescence of speaker, sentiment, and site summarizes the story that is lovingly detailed in the pages of this jewel of American legal history."—St. Louis Globe-Democrat

"McNeil has filled a vast void with this book, and students in contemporary American legal history owe her an immense debt."—Derrick A. Bell, New York University

"The legal community is indebted to Dr. McNeil for her oustanding scholarship."—Harvard Law Review

"Thanks now to Groundwork Houston's contributions to the struggle for civil rights, and in particular his pivotal role in the effort to integrate American schools, have been documented."—New York Times

"A moving and long overdue testament of a singularly neglected giant of our history."—Ebony

Audience: College/higher education;