George Williamson Crawford

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Crawford while a law student in New Haven

George Williamson Crawford (1877–1972) was a lawyer, public servant, and activist for African-American civil rights in New Haven, Connecticut.

Crawford was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and attended the Tuskegee Institute and Talladega College, both historically black colleges.[1] He then matriculated at Yale Law School, where he was only the second black graduate after Edwin Archer Randolph.[1][2] While at Yale he received the Townsend Prize awarded to the best orator at the law school, a prestigious award.[3] The award, which included a prize of $100, was given for a speech titled, "Trades Unionism and Patriotism."[4] He was appointed clerk of the Probate Court of New Haven immediately upon graduation in 1903.[5]

From 1907 until the 1950s, Crawford worked in private practice in New Haven.[6] He was particularly recognized for a high-profile case in which he won the acquittals of thirteen defendants (all white), political leaders of Waterbury, Connecticut who had been charged with criminal breach of the public trust.[6] From 1954 to 1962 he served as corporation counsel for the City of New Haven.[1]

Crawford was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and was one of the founders of the Greater New Haven branch of the organization.[7] He was also an outspoken freemason; he wrote a book on Prince Hall and black freemasonry.[8] At the end of his life, Crawford was recognized as a pioneering black lawyer and civic leader. Roy Wilkins, then executive director of the NAACP, said at a 1966 ceremony dedicating George Crawford Manor, a high-rise residential building for the elderly in New Haven, "It is difficult for a colored man to rise above differences, mistreatments, and inequalities to reach a place such as George Crawford has. He brought all the qualities that make up the American Dream. He served his community—not colored or white—but the whole community."[9] The George W. Crawford Black Bar Association, an organization of black lawyers in Connecticut, was named in his honor.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "George W. Crawford Black Bar Association". Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Pioneers". Yale African American Affinity Group. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Class Day at Yale". The New York Times. June 22, 1903. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Win Yale Law Prizes: Negro and Chinaman Divide Highest Commencement Honors". The Philadelphia Record. June 23, 1903. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "School and Alumni Notes". Yale Law Journal 14: 298. 1904–1905. 
  6. ^ a b Smith, J. Clay (1993). Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer 1844-1944. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 127; 162. 
  7. ^ "About the Sustainer Program". Greater New Haven NAACP. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Crawford, George Williamson (1914). Prince Hall and his Followers. New York: The Crisis. 
  9. ^ "Wilkins Dedicates Home for Elderly, Hits GOP". Jet. October 13, 1996. p. 10. Retrieved 7 January 2013.