In 1930 William Hastie earned his LL.B. degree from Harvard University Law School. While at Harvard, he was on the Harvard Law Review. Hastie then joined the faculty of Howard University Law School, and, after being admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1931, he entered private practice in ...
In 1930 William Hastie earned his LL.B. degree from Harvard University Law School. While at Harvard, he was on the Harvard Law Review. Hastie then joined the faculty of Howard University Law School, and, after being admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1931, he entered private practice in association with civil rights icon Charles Hamilton Houston's law firm of Houston and Houston. In 1933, he earned his Doctor of Juridical Science from Harvard Law School.
In the early 1930s Hastie worked first as a race relations advisor to the Roosevelt administration, and then in 1933 became assistant solicitor of the Department of the Interior. In 1937 Hastie became the first African-American federal judge when President Roosevelt appointed him to the bench of the Federal District Court in the Virgin Islands. Hastie served on the Virgin Islands bench for two years before returning to the Howard University School of Law as dean and professor of law.
During World War II, from 1941 to 1943, William H. Hastie was a civilian aide to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. But On January 15, 1943, he resigned his position to protest racial segregation and discrimination in the armed forces. Later that year, the NAACP awarded Hastie its prestigious Springarn Medal "for his distinguished career as jurist and as an uncompromising champion of equal justice."
Hastie worked with Houston and Marshall and others on the strategy and on a number of the cases leading to the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
Between 1946 and 1949 Hastie returned to the Virgin Islands, this time as its first African-American governor. Then in 1949 he was appointed to the Third United States Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest judicial position attained by an African American to that time. Hastie served as a Third Circuit judge for twenty-one years, including from 1968 to 1971 as chief judge.
This additional biographical data was taken from the Federal Judicial Center [link] on Aug 15, 2016:
| Hastie, William Henry |
- Born November 17, 1904, in Knoxville, TN
Died April 14, 1976, in Philadelphia, PA
Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Received a recess appointment from Harry S Truman on October 21, 1949, to a new seat authorized by 63 Stat. 493; nominated to the same position by Harry S Truman on January 5, 1950. Confirmed by the Senate on July 19, 1950, and received commission on July 22, 1950. Served as chief judge, 1968-1971. Assumed senior status on May 31, 1971. Service terminated on April 14, 1976, due to death.
Amherst College, A.B., 1925
Harvard Law School, LL.B., 1930
Harvard Law School, S.J.D., 1933
Private practice, Washington, D.C., 1930-1933
Assistant solicitor, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1933-1937
Judge, U.S. District Court, District of the Virgin Islands, 1937-1939
Dean, Howard University School of Law, 1939-1946
Civilian aide to the Secretary of War, 1940-1943
Governor, Virgin Islands, 1946-1949
Nominated to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, October 15, 1949; no Senate vote
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