Charles H. Houston was a strategic man, and has been credited with strategically dismantling Jim Crow laws (the former practice of segregating black people in the US). Houston was primarily responsible for developing the legal strategy that eventually led the United States Supreme Court to declare segregation in American schools unconstitutional.
Houston was drafted into the United States Army in World War 1. Managing to be drafted as an officer, in his first military appointment as judge-advocate, he was assigned the task of prosecuting a case involving two black soldiers involved in disorderly conduct. He found no grounds for the charges brought on them. He was labeled “no good” when he failed to successfully convict the soldiers. It was in repsonse to this, and the conviction of a black sergeant, who had been described as one of the best in company, that Houston wrote:
“I made up my mind that I would never get caught again without knowing my rights; that if luck was with me, and I got through this war, I would study law and use my time fighting for men who could not strike back.”
Houston earned an undergraduate degree at Amherst College and a law degree at Harvard University. After his return to Washington he joined his father’s law firm, and began taking on civil rights cases. He is considered one of the most important civil rights attorneys in American history. Thank you Mr. Houston for reminded us that it is important to educate one’s self and be strategic in their impact. A good strategy can produce the best results.
The race problem in the United States is the type of unpleasant problem which we would rather do without but which refuses to be buried. – Charles Hamilton Houston