Root and Branch Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and the Struggle to End Segregation

Rawn James, Jr.

Bloomsbury Press




288 Pages



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Although widely viewed as the beginning of the legal struggle to end segregation, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Brown v. Board of Education was in fact the culmination of decades of court challenges led by a band of lawyers intent on dismantling Jim Crow one statute at a time.

Charles Hamilton Houston laid the groundwork, reinventing the law school at Howard University (where he taught a young, brash Thurgood Marshall) and becoming special counsel to the NAACP. Later, Houston and Marshall traveled through the South, often at great personal risk, chipping away, case by case, at the legal foundations of racial oppression. The buttoned-up Houston and the easygoing Marshall made an unlikely pair-but their partnership made an unforgettable impact on American history.


Praise for Root and Branch

"With deft portrayals of Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall and captivating accounts of the cases they were involved in, Rawn James, Jr., brings back to our attention two central figures in the nation's effort to use constitutional law to confront and overcome our history of segregation and racism."—Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

"The story of a whole nation being forced—by the fierce will of two learned men—to overcome."—The Washington Post

"Moving and gracefully written."—Raymond Arsenault, author of Freedom Riders and The Sound of Freedom

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Rawn James, Jr.

  • A graduate of Yale University and Duke University School of Law, Rawn James, Jr., has practiced law for a decade in Washington, D.C., where he lives with his wife and their children.