The Houston Lawyers Association is an affiliate of the National Bar Association. The Houston Lawyers Association was founded in 1955 at a time when African American Attorneys could not join the Houston Bar Association. Each year through its leadership and members, the Houston Lawyers Association continues to carry out the purpose and mission set forth by our Founders. The Founders of this historic and necessary organization are listed below.
Weldon H. Berry, was a 1952 alumnus of Texas Southern University School of Law. As a Cooperating Attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he tried many federal cases involving civil rights violations. He was also a plaintiff in the highly publicized State of Texas case LULAC v. Attorney General of Texas.
He was former member of the judiciary and was a judge for the 80th Civil District Court of Harris County. In addition to being a founding member of the Houston Lawyers Association, Judge Berry was also a member of the Texas College Alumni Association, the Bronze Eagles Flying Club, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, and the New Mount Carmel Baptist Church. His Awards include: Houston Men’s Club “Man of the Year” in 1983, “Alumnus of the Year” in 1984.
Robeson L. King, a native of Wichita Falls, Texas, graduated from University of Chicago Law School in 1948. Upon graduation, King came to Houston and became the first law librarian and faculty member at Thurgood Marshall School of Law, where he remained until his retirement in 1986. He simultaneously maintained a law practice with his partner Aloysius M. Wickliff, Sr.
In addition to being a founding member of the Houston Lawyers Association, King was also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, and a member of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. His honors and awards include: Charles A. George Dental Society, “Award for Meritorious Service” in 1965; Texas Southern University “Service Recognition Award” for twenty years of service in 1968; Booker T. Washington High School “Teacher of the year Award” in 1969; and the Wichita Falls “Outstanding Alumni Award” in 1969.
Aloysius M. Wickliff, Sr. a native of Liberty, Texas, graduated from Catholic University with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1951. He returned to Texas in 1952 and joined Robeson L. King in the practice of law. In addition to being a founding member of the Houston Lawyers Association he was also was a member of several other organizations, including the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, and Council #72 of the Knights of St. Peter Claver.
Mr. Wickliff’s civic affiliations included: President of the Harris Council of Organizations. He was also very active and involved in the political life of this community. His honors and awards include: Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Community Service in 1989; Attorney General Salute for Outstanding Service and Leadership in 1989; Democratic National Committee Certificate of Appreciation in 1982; among many other awards.
Robert W. Hainsworth, graduated from Howard University in 1930. After graduation, he returned to Houston where he obtained employment as a principal of a Houston night school. He was also commissioned as an Officer in the Army and later served as an Office in the Air Force Reserves. He later attended Howard University School of Law and upon graduation in 1949, he once again returned to Houston to practice law.
After witnessing discrimination face by Houston attorneys, he became instrumental in founding the Houston Lawyers Association. He was the plaintiff in a suit against the City of Houston, which challenged segregated seating in the city’s law library, which required African-American attorneys to use a designated table. He practiced law until his death in 1981. He was also involved in local and state politics and ran for a seat in the state legislature. He was a trustee of Antioch Missionary Baptist church.
Posthumously, in 2021 the Harris County Law Library was renamed in honor of Robert W. Hainsworth.
Matthew W. Plummer, a native of San Antonio, Texas was a graduate of the first class of Texas Southern University Law School for Negroes in 1949. While practicing law in Houston, he filed the lawsuit Plummer v. Derrington to desegregate the cafeteria of the Harris County Courthouse. He is a former Judge of the 133rd Civil District Court.
In addition to being a founding member and former President of the Houston Lawyers Association, Judge Plummer was also a founder of the Texas Land Owners Association (a minority organization dedicated to the problems of land loss by Black Americans), President of the Tuskegee Civic Association, and founding member of the Tuskegee Branch of the NAACP. His awards include the Wiley A. Branton Award in 1992. As an expert in the area of probate and land law, several of his cases are cited in a seminal work on land law in Texas authored by Harold F. Thurow.
Francis Williams, a native of Austin, graduated from Howard University School of Law in 1950. After Graduation, he came to Houston and joined Henry E. Doyle in the practice of law. One of his best-known lawsuits was the Houston Independent School District (HISD) integration case. In addition to being a founding member of the Houston Lawyers Association, Williams also served as President of the NAACP Houston Branch, President of the Harris County Council of Organizations, Executive Director of the Harris County Community Action Organization, and Chairman of the HISD Board of Education Legislative Committee.