Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name


Department of History

First Advisor

Dr. Charmayne Patterson

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Evans


This study explores the idea of who was the first to foster a national movement to weaken Jim Crow laws. This study was based on the premise that Martin Luther King, Jr. was an important figure, but not the actual father of a movement to grant blacks equal rights, as many suggest. A case study analysis approach was used to analyze data gathered including primary sources, personal letters from Charles Hamilton Houston to his parents and friends, as well as court documents related to cases he argued in federal and state courts. In addition newspaper/magazine articles from Houston's time, articles focusing on him after his death, and sociological studies from that time were also utilized. The research found that Charles Hamilton Houston was the first black lawyer to challenge "separate but equal" with national success. Houston used empirical and scientific data of that time to show the facilities were not. The conclusion drawn from the findings suggests that the legal victories Houston achieved provided all Americans with a basis from which to challenge segregation and unequal treatment under the law in America.

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