Our Mission


The Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center’s mission is to serve as the University’s flagship institutional setting for the study and practice of civil rights, human rights, and racial justice law and advocacy. We seek to obtain the goal of liberation from structural racism by applying our core tenets of using movement lawyering, critical race theory scholarship and community organizing to fight for social change.


Howard University School of Law has been at the forefront of civil rights progress since its founding in 1867. Howard alumnus Justice Thurgood Marshall and former Howard University School of Law Dean Charles Hamilton Houston crafted the 20th century’s paradigmatic legal campaign that culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Brown v. Board, in turn, catalyzed the 1960s Civil Rights Movements, a dynamic period of transformation that led to the passage of the nation’s seminal civil rights protections. In 1967, Justice Marshall became the first Black Supreme Court justice.


The Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center fuels social change by fostering collaboration between law, policy, scholarship, and grassroots organizing. 

  • We advance civil rights and human rights law by providing direct litigation support and rigorous policy research.
  • We shape public discourse on racial equality by providing a platform for scholarship and debate on cutting edge civil rights issues. 
  • We provide a launchpad for activists to help ensure grassroots organizing stands at the forefront of the burgeoning civil rights movement.

Engagement with the Legal Community

Executive Director Justin Hansford presents on efforts towards Reparations to a room of Howard Law students in the Damon J. Keith Moot Court Room at Howard University School of Law.

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Students, Staff, Faculty and Volunteers