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Tue, 01.20.1903

Loren Miller, Lawyer, and Judge born

Loren Miller

*Loren Miller was born on this date in 1903. He was a Black journalist, activist, attorney, and judge.

He was born in Pender, Nebraska, to a former slave John Miller, and Nora Herbaugh, a white Midwesterner of Dutch ancestry. Miller attended Kansas University and received his law degree from Washburn Law School in Topeka, Kansas, in 1928.

In 1929, he came to Los Angeles, where he first worked as editor of the California Eagle, a Black newspaper he purchased in 1951. He also worked for The Los Angeles Sentinel with his cousin Leon H. Washington, Jr. In 1932, Miller and writer Langston Hughes went to the Soviet Union along with other Blacks to make a film on Negro life in Communist Russia. The film never got made.

In 1933 Loren married Juanita Ellsworth, a social worker; they had two sons: Loren, Jr. and Edward Ellsworth. Loren passed the bar exam in California in 1933. Miller spent most of his legal career fighting discrimination (he assisted Thurgood Marshall with Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas), chiefly housing discrimination and real estate racial restrictive covenants.  In 1945 he was the lawyer for African American actress Hattie McDaniel in the Los Angeles "Sugar Hill" housing case, which he won. In 1948 he successfully argued the US Supreme Court case Shelley v. Kraemer; the Supreme Court found that although real estate restrictive covenants were not unconstitutional in and of themselves, any enforcement of a restrictive covenant by a court would be unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.  He was a member of the Bars in Kansas and California.

Miller was a member of and held offices in dozens of organizations, including the NAACP and its national legal committee; American Civil Liberties Union; National Urban League; Los Angeles Urban League; United States Commission on Civil Rights; League of American Writers; National Bar Association; National Conference of Christians and Jews; National Negro Congress; National Lawyers Guild; and the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing. In 1964, Miller was appointed to the Los Angeles County Municipal Court. In 1966, he wrote The Petitioners: The Story of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Negro. Loren Miller died in Los Angeles in July 1967.

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