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Selected Profiles of Massachusetts Judges and Lawyers

William H. Lewis

While a student at the Harvard Law School in the 1890s, Lewis was involved in an incident in Cambridge when a white barber refused to
cut his hair. (See exhibit section on Participation.) He and Butler Wilson, Esq. thereafter persuaded the Massachusetts legislature to broaden
the state's anti-discrimination statute to include barbershops and other places of public accommodation. In 1911, he was appointed as the first African American Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department. He later returned to Massachusetts and entered the private practice of law, representing a broad range of clients from every walk of life. He was an outstanding lawyer with extensive trial experience in Massachusetts courts, as well as appearances before the Supreme Court of the United States. Recommended for the Massachusetts Superior Court by President Taft in 1913, Massachusetts Governor Eugene N. Foss did not appoint him.
Courtesy Colored American Magazine


lewis in court
Attorney William H. Lewis arguing in court.
Courtesy Boston Public Library




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