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Frank D. Reeves (1916-1973) was a lawyer and civil rights activist who was part of the team that shaped the landmark Brown v. Board of Education (1954) lawsuit that rendered segregated schools unconstitutional and mandated school desegregation throughout the United States.

Reeves was born in Montreal, Canada, and educated in New York City before moving to Washington. He lived with his family at 322 Division Ave., NE, and graduated from Dunbar High School. He earned undergraduate and law degrees at Howard University. After receiving his law degree in 1939, Reeves worked for the NAACP in New York City. In the 1950s he worked with Thurgood Marshall, James Nabrit, and others on the battle to desegregate public schools. He was the first African American chosen to sit on the DC Board of Commissioners, the three-man panel that ran the city from 1874 until limited home rule was instituted in 1967. He declined the appointment. In 1960 Reeves became the first African American member of the Democratic National Committee. He served as an advisor on minority affairs to Senator John F. Kennedy during his campaign for the presidency.

Reeves taught at the Howard University School of Law during the 1960s. At the same time he was legal counsel to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and helped negotiate the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom as well as the Poor Peoples Campaign in 1967.

Reeves was known for taking pro bono, or free, cases and organized others to do the same as part of Neighborhood Legal Services at Howard University. He co-founded the National Conference of Black Lawyers, committed to struggle against racism through the use of the law. He also founded the Joint Center for Political Studies. The Frank D. Reeves Center for Municipal Affairs at 14th and U streets, NW, was named in his honor when it opened in 1986.

Reeves and his family moved to 7760 16th Street, NW, in 1961


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