One of America's Greatest Civil Rights Pioneers

Marshall and His Mentor

Marshall and his mentor: Charles Hamilton Houston

refer to caption
The 42c Charles Hamilton Houston and Walter White Civil Rights Pioneer stamp was issued February 21, 2009.
refer to caption
The 37-cent 1948 Executive Order 9981 stamp was issued August 30, 2005.

Marshall enrolled at the Howard University Law School where he forged a relationship with the dean of the institution, Charles Hamilton Houston.

Houston was a brilliant man who graduated from Amherst College and Harvard law. As WWI approached, he was stationed in France where his eyes were opened to the injustices ingrained in the society of the time. “The hate and scorn showered on Negro officers by our fellow Americans… convinced me that there was no sense in dying for a world ruled by them,” Houston said. It would not be until Executive Order 9981, issued by Harry Truman in 1948, that equality of treatment for all people in the army was promised. Upon Houston’s return to the States, he had dedicated himself to instructing a new generation of African American lawyers with the ability to attack and bring down segregation in America.

“My battleground is in America, not France,” he said upon leaving the army.

Houston began teaching at Howard Law school and soon earned a reputation as an intense and passionate instructor driven to mold young African-american men and women into “social engineers.” He soon became Dean of the school and took interest in one student in particular.

Thurgood Marshall was his star.