Campus & Community

Tomiko Brown-Nagin Named Charles Hamilton Houston Fellow

3 min read

Tomiko Brown-Nagin has been appointed a Harvard Law School Charles Hamilton Houston Fellow.

The Houston Fellowship was established in 1992 by Dean Robert Clark to promote new channels of entry into legal teaching and enhance diversity within the profession.

During her year in residence at the Law School, Brown-Nagin will transform certain aspects of her dissertation into a work of legal scholarship. Her dissertation considers the impact of class conflict on the efficacy of legal processes and remedies through the prism of the NAACP’s failed effort to desegregate Atlanta’s public school system. Brown-Nagin said she focuses on class because that perspective has been either totally ignored as an analytical construct or conflated with race by the vast majority of legal scholars.

“I’m looking forward to working with scholars here who will challenge me to make my arguments and conclusions as engaging as possible and relevant to both the legal scholars and to contemporary practitioners who are working in the tradition of Charles Hamilton Houston,” she said.

Brown-Nagin graduated summa cum laude from Furman University in 1992, where she majored in history. She received an M.A. from Duke University in 1993 in American political history and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1997, where she served as editor of the Yale Law Journal.

After graduating, Brown-Nagin served as a law clerk to Judge Jane R. Roth of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, and Judge Robert L. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in history at Duke University.

The Charles Hamilton Houston Fellowship seeks to attract candidates with genuine teaching potential who will bring underrepresented perspectives to legal teaching and scholarship in the United States. Participants are in residence at Harvard Law School for one year and receive a $25,000 fellowship.

The career of Charles Hamilton Houston, the distinguished African-American lawyer and teacher for whom the fellowship is named, epitomizes the goals of the program. Houston received the LL.B. degree from Harvard Law School in 1922 and was the first African American ever to serve on the Harvard Law Review. With the aid provided by a Harvard Law School Langdell Scholarship for graduate study, Houston received the S.J.D. degree in 1923.

In addition to his distinguished career in private practice and public service, Houston served for six years as vice-dean of the Howard University Law School, where he oversaw training and inspired a generation of lawyers who helped achieve racial justice through law. Houston also served as the first African American general counsel of the NAACP, where his skill and commitment helped prove that a lawyer of color could represent and win major civil rights victories in the courts.