NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, INC. ( LDF). The legal arm of the NAACP* that led the civil rights movement* in the federal courts and was victorious in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education* case.
The roots of the LDF were in the early history of the NAACP. After Nathan Margold outlined a strategy for the NAACP in the Margold Report* to systematically challenge segregation,* the NAACP hired Charles Hamilton Houston,* then dean of the Howard Law School,* to be its first full-time legal staff member. Houston filed lawsuits to force southern universities to open their graduate and professional schools to blacks. In 1938 the NAACP had its first victory with Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada.* In 1939 the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (later to be called the Legal Defense Fund and then LDF) was incorporated as a separate group so that the LDF could receive tax-exempt charitable donations while the NAACP continued its lobbying activities, which made it ineligible for such tax-exempt deductions. One board of directors directed both organizations.
Houston hired Thurgood Marshall* to help, and by the end of the year Marshall was named the director of the LDF. Marshall led the court battles, building on the success of the Gaines case with a victory in Sweatt v. Painter ( 1950),* in which the U.S. Supreme Court* decided that segregated professional-school facilities for blacks had to be equal to those available for whites, which meant that they were likely to be prohibitively expensive. After Sweatt the LDF began its battle directly against segregated elementary and secondary schools. This resulted in the victories in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education and Bolling v. Sharpe.* In the following decade the LDF had to defend itself against southern