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grandson of a slave, Hastie was born in 1904 in Knoxville,
Tennessee. Rather than subject their son to the humiliating
segregation of the city's public transportation system, the
Hasties had their son walk the three miles to school. To
escape the strangling atmosphere of the Jim Crow south,
the Hastie family moved to Washington, D.C. where Hastie
attended Dunbar High School, then, as now, one of the
finest high schools in the federal district. Hastie excelled
academically and was the valedictorian of the Class of 1921.
Hastie attended Amherst College where he majored in
mathematics; he graduated first in the Class of 1925, magna
cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Lean as a racehorse, quick,
and coordinated, Hastie captained the Amherst track team,
earning four varsity letters. He was offered a fellowship to
attend Oxford University, but he elected to begin a career
in education. From 1925 to 1927, he taught physics,
mathematics and calculus at Bordentown Technical High
School in Trenton, New Jersey.
In 1927 Hastie enrolled at Harvard Law School, then
in its golden age under Dean Roscoe Pound and a faculty
noted for its academic brilliance. Elected to the Harvard Law
Review, Hastie studied under Professor Felix Frankfurter who
was later to serve on the United States Supreme Court. He
was steeped in Frankfurter's theories of judicial restraint. The
severe, demanding Frankfurter said that, during his quarter
century at the Harvard Law School, he had had no finer
student than Hastie.
Graduating Harvard Law School in 1930, returning for
his Doctorate in Jurisprudence in 1933, Hastie joined the
Washingon, D.C. law firm of Houston and Houston. He
built up a general practice and joined the National Lawyers
Guild, the progressive and impatient counterpart to the more
conservative American Bar Association. As he always did,
Hastie cut an impressive figure: slender, impeccably dressed
and groomed with a thick black mustache; he had a bemused
smile and the confident, unflappable bearing of a natural
athlete.
Charles H. Houston, like Hastie a Phi Beta Kappa
graduate of Amherst and a combat veteran of World War
I, was the attorney who devised the strategies and tactics
used to bring down segregation. A veteran of the trenches
in France, Houston knew, almost instinctively, that frontal
assaults against fixed fortifications were seldom, if ever,
successful. Instead, Houston, over the next thirty years,
elected to launch a series of flanking attacks on various
species of segregation, attacks which inflicted on Jim Crow
death by a thousand cuts. Houston picked his targets
carefully, patiently gathering affidavits of fact, exhaustively
researching the law, and, with Hastie's assistance, submitting
crisp, persuasive, letter-perfect pleadings and briefs.

In 1933, at the prompting of Frankfurter, President Franklin
D. Roosevelt appointed Hastie solicitor for the United States
Department of the Interior. Hastie was one of a platoon of
bright young men - Frankfurter's hot dogs, the press called them
- who came to serve in the New Deal. During his tenure at the
Department of the Interior Hastie was a contributing member
of FDR's so-called "black cabinet" which was chaired by Ralph
Bunch and Robert Weaver. In 1943, Hastie married Beryl
Lockwood with whom he had two children.
In 1937, Roosevelt nominated the 33-year-old Hastie to the
United States District Court for the Virgin Islands. Hastie's
age and race gave the United States Senate pause. Roosevelt's
controversial "court-packing" plan, announced just two days
before, had already infuriated the lawmakers and the nomination
of Hastie, a black man, seemed like so much salt being rubbed
into the Senate's wounds. The opposition to Hastie was led
by Senator William King of Utah and Senator Millard Tydings
of Maryland; however, when Roosevelt threatened to stir up
opposition in the African-American community to Tydings' bid
for re-election, Tydings withdrew his opposition. Hastie became
the first African American to serve on a United States District
Court.
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SIDEBAR Winter 2017-18

SIDEBAR Winter 2017-18 - 1
SIDEBAR Winter 2017-18 - 2
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http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2019
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http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARFall2018
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http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSummer2017
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