Belford V. Lawson was born in Roanoke, Virginia back in 1901. He attended the University of Michigan. In 1924 after graduation he was hired as the head football coach and athletic director at Jackson College. He also served as professor of social science and as the director of the Teacher’s Professional Department.
He earned his J.D. from Howard University School of Law in 1932. He presented several cases before The Supreme Court of the United States. He was the first African-American to win a case before the Court. He was also the first African-American to be president of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). some of his landmark lawsuits were Henderson v. Southern Railway Company (1950) which resulted in the abolishment of segregation in railroad dining cars. He also challenged the University of Maryland School of Law requiring racial segregation in its colleges.