Belford Vance Lawson, Jr.: Life of a Civil Rights Litigator

42 Pages Posted: 30 May 2012 Last revised: 8 Aug 2012

Gregory Scott Parks

Wake Forest University School of Law

Date Written: May 30, 2012


Organizations, like people, have identities. As complex organizations, among the variety of identities that African American fraternities and sororities have is that of civil rights organization. Chief among these organizations is Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity -- founded in 1906 at Cornell University. This article explores the life of a little-researched civil rights lawyer -- one of the first African Americans to argue a case before the US Supreme Court -- named Belford V. Lawson. Specifically, the article explores Lawson's personal, educational, and professional lives. With regard to the latter, much of this analysis is done through the lens of Lawson's fraternal involvement and how he utilized his fraternal network -- and a broader network of African American fraternity and sorority members who were attorneys -- to advance African American's desire for civil rights.

Suggested Citation

Parks, Gregory Scott, Belford Vance Lawson, Jr.: Life of a Civil Rights Litigator (May 30, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Gregory Scott Parks (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States

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