Hugo Lafayette Black was born in Harlan, Alabama, on February 27, 1886, to William Lafayette Black and Martha Ardella Black. He earned his law degree from the University of Alabama Law School in 1906. After practicing law in Birmingham, Alabama, for five years, he was appointed to serve as judge on the Police Court. Many of the individuals who appeared before him were under prosecution for petty offenses by corrupt officials who stood to profit from any fines that were levied against them. Black developed a reputation for fairness by leveling fines only against those who he believed had truly committed an offense, rather than rewarding officials who abused the power of their respective offices. Running as a champion of “helpless people,” he was ...

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