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Belford V. Lawson

Belford V. Lawson (1909-1985) and Marjorie M. Lawson (1912-2002) were a formidable legal couple. Belford served as lead attorney for New Negro Alliance v. Sanitary Grocery (1938), the Supreme Court case that safeguarded a right to boycott. Marjorie, U.S. representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, served as a DC Juvenile Court judge.

The Lawsons lived at this address from 1938 until 1958, at times sharing their home with Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (D.-NY), who rented the third floor during his tenure in Congress.

Belford Lawson was born in Roanoke, Virginia. He graduated from the University of Michigan and Howard University Law School. He practiced law in a three-man firm at 1232 U Street, NW. There he was instrumental in persuading fellow lawyers to work with the New Negro Alliance to force white businesses in black neighborhoods to hire African American workers. Belford was also part of the legal team that won Henderson v. Southern Railway Company, a landmark 1950 lawsuit that abolished segregation in railroad dining cars. He is credited with making at least eight appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court. In private practice, he worked most often for business clients.

Belford met Marjorie at the Robert H. Terrell Law School, where he was a teacher and she was a law student.

Marjorie was born in Pittsburgh and received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Michigan before coming to the Terrell Law School in Washington. She also earned a degree in 1950 from Columbia Law School. Marjorie made her practice in real estate law. She wrote a column for the Pittsburgh Courier from 1941 until 1955, served as general counsel for the National Council of Negro Women, and as an adviser to John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign. When she was appointed to the Juvenile Court bench by President Kennedy in 1962, she was the first black woman to 

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