William Ashbie Hawkins

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William Ashbie Hawkins
Born (1862-08-02)August 2, 1862
Lynchburg, Virginia
Died April 3, 1941(1941-04-03) (aged 78)
Baltimore, Maryland
Nationality American
Known for African American lawyer, counsel for the Baltimore Branch of the NAACP

William Ashbie Hawkins (1862–1941) was one of Baltimore's first African American lawyers.[1] He was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on August 2, 1862. He graduated in 1885 from Centenary Biblical Institute (later to become Morgan College), and the University of Maryland (1891), and Howard University (1892). He was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1897. About 1905 Hawkins joined forces with George W.F. McMechen (brother of his wife Ada M. McMechen) in the firm of Hawkins and McMechen.

The two lawyers were central figures in battling the city's landmark segregation law, which was initially established in 1910.[2] McMechen had moved into the 1800 block of McCulloh Street in northwest Baltimore, in a section that was still predominantly white. This perceived incursion was partially responsible for an effort by white Baltimoreans to institute a municipal, racial segregation law that was the first of its kind.

His biggest professional mark came in 1917 before the U.S. Supreme Court in Buchanan v. Warley. He served as counsel to the Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Afro-American newspapers.[3] Hawkins died from heart disease on April 3, 1941 at Provident Hospital and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery.[1]

One of Hawkins grandsons who went by Red Thunder Cloud, had refashioned a Hispanic and Native American background for himself.


  1. ^ a b "Black Baltimore 1870-1920, W. Ashbie Hawkins, Maryland State Archives". W. Ashbie Hawkins. Maryland State Archives. 2009-05-22. 
  2. ^ "Reserves Opinion in Segregation Case". Baltimore Afro-American 12 October, 1912.
  3. ^ "Ashbie Hawkins, Attorney for 50 Years, Dies at 78," Baltimore Afro-American, April 12, 1941.