This Trailblazer's Refusal To Give Up Set The Stage For Today's Black Lawyers

black man lawyer judge cartoon figure
Via Pixabay
Abeni Jones
May 1, 2023

With a Master’s degree under his belt, George Vashon applied to the Pennsylvania Bar to become a lawyer. But he was refused because, in the 1840s, Black people weren’t even considered citizens.

Vashon then went to New York, where he passed the Bar. Still, despite having all the credentials, he still struggled to become a practicing lawyer. Then he had an idea.

An institution that could educate and train Black lawyers could have a much more significant impact than if he just practiced himself.

He taught at and led several universities, including Howard, where he set up Howard Law School. This move paved the way for the countless Black lawyers, judges, and politicians who eventually graduated from Howard Law, like Thurgood Marshall.

Vashon didn’t stop there. He was also active in the Underground Railroad, contributed to Frederick Douglass’ abolitionist newspaper, The North Star, and was an accomplished poet.

He never gave up pursuing his vision of Black liberation. When racism puts up barriers to halt our progress, we have to get creative. An alternate path may lead to even bigger and more incredible things.