The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School (CHHIRJ) was launched in September 2005 by Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor of Law. The Institute honors and continues the unfinished work of Charles Hamilton Houston, one of the 20th century’s most important legal scholars and litigators. As the Vice Dean of Howard Law School, Houston engineered the multi-year legal strategy that led to the unanimous 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown Vs. Board of Education, repudiating the doctrine of “separate but equal” schools for black and white children. By facilitating a continuous dialogue between practitioners and scholars, he ensured that legal scholarship would resonate outside the academy, and that new legal strategies would be immediately incorporated into the training and practice of lawyers.
CHHIRJ uses this model to address contemporary challenges in our increasingly multi-racial society. Our long-term goal is to ensure that every member of our society enjoys equal access to the opportunities, responsibilities and privileges of membership in the United States. The Institute serves as a critical bridge between scholarship, law, policy and practice and is well-positioned to bring together critical players from many spheres to devise and implement research-based solutions and remedies. In addition to organizing public events, free and open to all, that bring some of the nation’s eminent thinkers, experts and leaders to Harvard Law School, writing and presenting amicus briefs, policy briefs, and written and oral testimony to state legislatures and to Congress, we collaborate with community, regional and national organizations on policy and legal matters. We are not wedded to any single approach, but rather to creating partnerships that maximize resources, expertise, and impact.