William Ashbie Hawkins Photo

William Ashbie Hawkins

Born: Aug 2, 1862

Death: Apr 3, 1941

Birthplace: Lynchburg

Nationality: United States

William Ashbie Hawkins

Date of Birth : Aug 2, 1862
Date of Death : Apr 3, 1941
Birth Place : Lynchburg

William Ashbie Hawkins was one of Baltimore's first African American lawyers. He was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on August 2, 1862. He graduated in 1885 from Centenary Biblical Institute, and the University of Maryland, and Howard University. He was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1897. About 1905 Hawkins joined forces with George W.F. McMechen in the firm of Hawkins and McMechen. The two lawyers were central figures in battling the city's landmark segregation law, which was initially established in 1910. McMechen had moved into the 1800 block of McCulloh Street in northwest Baltimore, in a section that was still predominantly white. This perceived incursion was partially responsible for an effort by white Baltimoreans to institute a municipal, racial segregation law that was the first of its kind. His biggest professional mark came in 1917 before the U.S. Supreme Court in Buchanan v. Warley. He served as counsel to the Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Afro-American newspapers. Hawkins died from heart disease on April 3, 1941 at Provident Hospital and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

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