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Howard Jenkins, Jr. Papers

 Collection
Identifier: M004

Howard Jenkins, Jr., (1915-2003) was a labor law attorney who was the first African-American appointed to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), where he served from 1963-1983. He began his law career in Denver, Colorado and was Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law from 1946-1955. He also served as Special Assistant to the Solicitor of Labor, 1956-1959; Director of the Office of Regulations at the Bureau of Labor-Management Reports, 1959-1962; and Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau, 1962-1963. Jenkins concentrated on eliminating racial discrimination in labor unions and establishing national labor policy that held discrimination on basis of sex or race was unfair labor practice. He was instrumental in drafting and passing the "Landrum-Griffin" Act of 1959, a labor reform document known as "Employees' Bill of Rights."

The papers contain correspondence, speeches, oral history transcripts, journals, journal articles, newspaper clippings, books, reports, notebooks, congressional hearings, certificates, diplomas, plaques, photographs, and memorabilia primarily covering Jenkins' service on the U.S. National Labor Relations Board.

Dates

  • 1935-1997
  • Majority of material found within 1963-1983

Creator

Extent

5.5 Linear Feet (3 record boxes, 1 legal document box, 1 flat box 16.5x20.5x3.5 in.)

Scope and Contents

Howard Jenkins, Jr. was a labor law attorney who was the first African-American appointed to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board where he served from 1963-1983. He began his law career in Denver, Colorado and was Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law from 1946-1955. He also served as Special Assistant to the Solicitor of Labor, 1956-1959; Director of the Office of Regulations at the Bureau of Labor-Management Reports, 1959-1962; and Assistant Commissioner of Bureau, 1962-1963. Jenkins concentrated on eliminating racial discrimination in labor unions and establishing national labor policy that held discrimination on basis of sex or race was unfair labor practice. Instrumental in drafting and passing "Landrum-Griffin" Act of 1959, a labor reform document known as "Employees' Bill of Rights." The Howard Jenkins, Jr. papers contain correspondence, speeches, oral history transcripts, journals, journal articles, newspaper clippings, books, reports, notebooks, congressional hearings, certificates, diplomas, plaques, photographs, and memorabilia. The collection primarily relates to his service on the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and spans the years 1939-1999. The papers cover Jenkins' attempts during his years on the NLRB to use the mandates of the National Labor Relations Act to eliminate racial discrimination in labor unions. The collection also contains documents relating to Jenkins' essential role in drafting the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 and in ensuring compliance with the Act. Howard Jenkins, Jr. was a Republican who became known as a great supporter of labor unions. The collection reflects Howard Jenkins, Jr.'s role as a policymaker and leader in labor law.

Biographical / Historical

Howard Jenkins, Jr. was born on June 16, 1915 in Denver, Colorado, the third child of Howard and Nellie Jenkins. He graduated from the University of Denver in 1936 and from the University's College of Law in 1941. Although he was not the first African American to practice law in Colorado, he was the first African-American to pass the Colorado Bar Examination. In 1940 he married Alice Elaine Brown, the daughter of a prominent African-American minister. She graduated from the University of Denver in 1937 and was the first African-American to teach in the Denver public schools. Howard Jenkins, Jr. died in 2003 and was survived by his wife and two sons and a daughter.

Howard Jenkins became interested in law when he accompanied his best friend to watch his friend's father, Sam Cary, try court cases. Sam Cary was one of the first African-American lawyers in Denver. Jenkins practiced law in Denver until 1946, first in private practice, then in the Denver Office of Price Administration with Edward E. Pringle and Max Melville, then at the Denver War Production Board with James C. Flanigan and Edward Scheunemann. In 1943 Jenkins was appointed Regional Attorney for the National War Labor Board, and in 1945 its Chief Regional Enforcement Officer. Jenkins then went to work in Washington, D.C. for William Willard Wirtz on the National Wage Stabilization Board, and joined the faculty at Howard University School of Law. As a law professor he helped prepare briefs for the U.S. Supreme Court to desegregate the railroads and the public schools, including the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. In 1956, Jenkins became the special assistant to the Solicitor of Labor. While special assistant, he was intimately involved in drafting and passing the ''Landrum-Griffin'' Labor Reform Act, known as the ''Employees' Bill of Rights.'' In 1959, Jenkins was named Director of the Office of Regulations at the Bureau of Labor-Management Reports. In 1962, he was named Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau and became the highest-ranking African-American attorney in the federal government. In 1963, Jenkins became the first African-American to be appointed to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) when nominated by President John F. Kennedy. Jenkins was reappointed by three subsequent presidents and served on the NLRB for 20 years.

Howard Jenkins, Jr. had a substantial impact on labor law during his years of service. His mission was ''to help them discover blacks in the industrial work force, and to get it firmly fixed in our national labor policy that discrimination on the basis of race or sex is an unfair labor practice.'' He wrote the majority opinion in the 1964 watershed case Hughes Tool Co. II, which created unions' duty of fair representation. He also wrote a dissent, affirmed by the courts, holding that it was illegal sex discrimination for unions to have a waiters' union and a separate waitresses' union.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in nine series:
  1. Howard University School of Law, 1946-1955
  2. National Wage Stabilization Board, 1946-1947
  3. Department of Labor, 1956-1963
  4. Bureau of Management 1959-1963
  5. National Labor Relations Board, 1963-1983
  6. Post National Labor Relations Board, 1984-1997
  7. Personal and Family Materials, 1962-1999
  8. Books, Notebooks, and Journals, 1935-1981
  9. Certificates, Photographs, and Plaques, 1941-1997
Some of the photographs and plaques of the collection were separated out for a permanent exhibit at the University of Denver College of Law before the collection came to University of Denver Special Collections and Archives.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Howard Jenkins Jr., 1995 and April 5, 1999.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

Contact:
2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428