Howard University

George E.C. Hayes, Thurgood Marshall, and James Nabrit Jr congratulate each other outside of the Supreme Court on the day of the decision

James Nabrit Jr and His Uncompromising Assault on Segregation

James Nabrit Jr came to the District as an up-and-coming Howard law professor. He developed the first course at an American law school on civil rights law and instilled in his students an unrelenting belief in the immorality and impracticality of the Plessy v. Ferguson decision. As the lead counsel for the District's Bolling v. Sharpe case, Nabrit championed the position of attacking segregation outright, instead of relying on equalization. He pushed Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP to sharpen their attacks on school segregation and strongly influenced the outcome of all of the Brown v. Board school cases.

Charles Hamilton Houston

Charles Hamilton Houston and His Civil Rights Brain Trust

Charles Hamilton Houston is referred to as the "architect" of the civil rights movement. Before helping the Consolidated Parent Group kickoff their legal case, Houston built up the Howard University Law School into a world-class legal institution and mentored some of the most important figures of the civil rights movement, including Thurgood Marshall.

The Howard University Fight Over Vaccination

Image of a gravestone of someone who allegedly died of vaccine poisoning at school (Source: Thomas Boudren, An Open Letter to the Governor and Members of the General Assembly of Connecticut, Bridgeport, Connecticut: Press of the Farmer Pub., Co., 1911)

Prior to 1909, Harry Bradford had almost never landed himself in the paper. He appeared in The Washington Post once, when it announced that the Kensington Orchestra was going to be performing in the near future. (Bradford played violin.) But other than that, nothing. And yet, in 1910, Bradford’s name was in all caps on the front page of the Post. “Bradford told to quit,” the headline read.

Sit-ins Come to Arlington

Activists at drug store counter in Arlington. (Source: Washington Area Spark on Flickr.)

Shortly after 1 p.m. on June 9, 1960 a biracial contingent of college students entered the People’s Drug Store at Lee Highway and Old Dominion Dr. in Arlington and requested service at the store’s lunch counter. Less than a mile away, a similar group sat down at the counter at the Cherrydale Drug Fair.

Both lunch counters promptly closed.

Still, the students did not move. In fact, they remained seated for hours, calmly reading books and Bibles until well after dark, in protest of the stores’ refusal to serve African American patrons at their lunch counters.

Muhammad Ali in 1967 (World Journal Tribune photo by Ira Rosenberg, Library of Congress)

Muhammad Ali's Speech at Howard University, 1967

The PBS documentary The Trials of Muhammad Ali, covers the boxing champ's struggles outside the ring during the tumultuous mid-1960s, and his emergence as a symbol of protest and dissent for young people of that time. Ali's duality as a firebrand activist and a revolutionary icon is examplified, in some ways, by his controversial appearance at Howard University in April 22, 1967, where he gave a speech to African-American students just days before he refused induction in the armed forces, which led to his indictment and conviction for draft evasion.