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Law Practice in Denver (1941-1945)
Dr. Clarence Holmes, a Denver dentist and long time African American leader, was Howard Jenkins’s godfather. The week after Howard passed the Colorado bar exam, Dr. Holmes called Jenkins and said, “Come down to the office, I want to talk to you.” When Howard arrived at 2606 Welton Street the sign out front had been changed from Clarence F. Holmes, D.D.S. to a sign that also read Howard Jenkins, Jr., Attorney at Law. Dr. Clarence Holmes had provided Jenkins with his first law office.
Howard stood there in tears and said, “Doc, I can’t afford an office like this!”
“Can you pay $50.00 a month?” Dr. Holmes asked.
Howard replied, “Yes, I can do that.”
“Then you’re in business”, he stated. “Now get in there because there are some files on your desk that need your attention.”
Jenkins’s initial cases covered insurance and criminal work. He successfully represented the defendant in the first murder case to be tried in the Federal District Court. He was the plaintiff’s attorney in the case of African American workers in the Building Trades Council where the local construction company pressured the general contractor to dismiss African Americans.
Beyond Denver, the Wagner Act was passed and signed into law by President Roosevelt on July 5, 1935. Unlike many of his colleagues and peers, Jenkins always felt that Senator Wagner was much more interested in preserving the free enterprise system than he was in expanding the trade union movement. The result of the Wagner Act was to keep government from intruding into the relationship between employers and employees.
World War II arrived and Jenkins volunteered to serve as a lawyer in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Office as a lawyer. He was turned down. An Army colonel later told Howard that “The Army has no place for Negroes in the JAG corps.”
The passage of the Wagner Act insured fair elections at the Ford Motor Co.in Dearborn, Michigan in May 1941
Jenkins instead worked 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 of the War Labor Board.
In 1945, Jenkins became Chief Regional Enforcement Officer of the National Wage Stabilization Board.