Day: February 21, 2017

The Man Who Killed Jim Crow

On day 21 of black history month, I want to thank a man who has been invisible to me until now. He shouldn’t have been; the fact that he wasn’t in my high school US history textbook is alarming. His name was Charles Hamilton Houston, and he did as much to shape America as Henry Ford or any of the vice presidents.

He has been called the man who killed Jim Crow. As Thurgood Marshall said, “We owe it all to Charlie.”

Marshall, who successfully argued in front of the US Supreme Court in Brown v. The Board of Education that “separate cannot be equal,” was Houston’s protege and star pupil, working with a legal team and strategy Houston masterminded, although it didn’t come to full fruition until after Houston’s death (of a heart attack, age 54).

Houston was a graduate of Amherst and Harvard (where he was on the staff of the Harvard Law Review) and a veteran of WWI (he served in France). He built Howard University’s law school into a full-time, accredited instituion; during his time there, he was directly responsible for the training of a quarter of the black lawyers in the US. In 1934, he left Howard to form the fighting force that was the NAACP’s Legal Defense Team, who he assigned to a series of cases which set up the trail of legal dominoes that ended in the supreme court.

He made a huge difference to my life, particularly my decade in public education. I’m not black, and I’m not one of the people who most needed his help. But I live in the world he fought for. I can’t imagine the alternative as anything but horrible and sad and frightening.

Thank you, Mr. Houston. Thank you for making it possible for me to know so many of the people I love. Thank you for saving me.



“The data suggest that 30 percent DEET should be used. Lower doses may repel young, nuisance mosquitoes, but not the dangerous, infected, old females.” (“You need more DEET to stop old mosquitoes with Zika,” Futurity, discussing a UC Davis study)

I think “young nuisance mosquitoes” may be a phrase I start using a lot, in a variety of contexts.

Summer adds:  I’ll probably start using “dangerous, infected, old female” as an empowerment.

Jon Ossoff for GA-6

Atlanta Friends: The special election to replace Tom Price in GA-6 is on April 18. It’s in the northern suburbs (Roswell, Dunwoody, Milton, etc.) so y’all probably won’t be voting in it – but you can mobilize to help anybody you DO know in the sixth district, by making sure they have rides to the polls if they need it, childcare if they need it, and/or just calling them on the phone and bugging them relentlessly.

Georgia special elections are notorious for having bad turnout, and it’s going to be a huge pack of people running – 18 of them – so the vote is likely to be pretty split. That means a handful of votes could move a needle enough to make a difference. Pundits think the Democrat with the best odds is Jon Ossoff. He’s looking for volunteers.

His campaign statement:

“I’m running for Congress because I believe we all have to stand up, right now, and fight for progress — for our prosperity and health, our civil rights and civil liberties, and our security.

I was born and raised in Georgia and grew up here in the Sixth District.

Today I lead a company that investigates corrupt politicians and organized crime.

Our team has taken down human traffickers, exposed dozens of corrupt officials around the world, and uncovered atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq.

Previously I was a senior national security staffer in the U.S. Congress, working with our military and intelligence community to keep Georgians safe while investigating wrongdoing by government contractors.

During five years as a Congressional aide, I learned how to get things done in Washington.

On Capitol Hill and as a journalist, I’ve learned how to expose and fight the abuse of power.

I will use my experience and all of my energy to fight for Georgia.”

Here’s his website.