Charles Hamilton Houston was one of the most important civil rights attorneys in American history. A lawyer, in his view, was an agent for social change - "either a social engineer or a parasite on society." In 1958, the main building of the Howard University School of Law was dedicated as Charles Hamilton Houston Hall.
His significance became more broadly known through the success of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and after the 1983 publication of Genna Rae McNeil's Groundwork: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Struggle for Civil Rights. He also served as an inspiration and mentor to Judge William Hastie, Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., Judge Spottswood William Robinson, III, James Nabrit Jr., and Oliver Hill. All of whom were leading legal scholars of their day and dedicated their careers to the fight for equality for all..
Charles Houston served as Dean of Howard University School of Law from 1929 to 1935, during which time he shaped the school into a significant institution, training almost a quarter of the nation's black law students. He focused on civil rights law, a subject that was not part of the curriculum of America's law schools.