From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Vaughn, George L.

(born: 1880  -  died: 1949) 

George L. Vaughn, born to Monroe and Josephine Vaughn in Columbus, KY, attended both elementary and high school there. A graduate of Lane College and Walden University Law School [located in Tennessee, closed in 1925], he later served as a 1st Lieutenant in the Artillery during World War I.

George Vaughn moved to St. Louis, MO, where he practiced law; in 1916 he became the first president of the Mound City Bar Association, which was specifically for African American lawyers; the St. Louis Bar Association did not admit African Americans.

In 1919, Vaughn helped found the Citizen Liberty League to help identify and elect more African Americans to public office. In 1936, he was appointed Justice of the Peace for the 4th District of St. Louis.

Vaughn is most remembered for taking on the Shelley Restrictive Covenant Case, a landmark civil rights case involving J. D. Shelley, an African American who had purchased a home in a white neighborhood in 1945. The neighborhood association served Shelley with an eviction notice, so the St. Louis African American real estate brokers association hired Vaughn to fight the notice. Vaughn won the trial, but the case was then taken to the Missouri Supreme Court, which upheld the eviction. With the support of the real estate brokers association, Vaughn appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 1948 the Supreme Court ruled in Shelley's favor.

In 1957, the 660-unit George L. Vaughn Public Housing Project was posthumously named in Vaughn's honor. 

For more see "George Vaughn," The Journal of Negro History, vol. 34, issue 4, (Oct., 1949), pp.  490-491; Lift Every Voice and Sing, by D. A. Wesley, W. Price, and A. Morris; and "George L. Vaughn," in West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edited by S. Phelps and J. Lehman, vol. 10, 2nd edition. See also the U.S. Supreme Court, Shelley V. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948), at the FindLaw website.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Hickman County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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Read about Columbus, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

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“Vaughn, George L.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 28, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-08-12 17:33:05