George William Crockett Jr. was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on August 10, 1909 to George William Crockett Sr., and Minnie Amelia Jenkins. His father was a Baptist minister and railroad carpenter and his mother was a Sunday School teacher and poet. Crockett grew up in Jacksonville, attending public schools there until his graduation from Stanton High Schoo1 in 1927. He then graduated from Morehouse College in 1931 with a B.A. in history and the University of Michigan where he received his J.D. in 1934. Crockett was admitted to the Florida bar in 1934 and soon afterwards began his long career in politics.
In 1937 Crockett helped found the National Lawyers Guild, the first racially integrated bar association in the United States. Two years later Crockett became the first African American lawyer hired by the United States Department of Labor, where he worked on employment cases under the National Labor Relations Act. During World War II Crockett became a hearing officer for the Federal Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC). Keenly aware of racial segregation and discrimination in labor unions, Crockett, after leaving the Labor Department, became the director of the Fair Employment Practices Department of the International United Auto Workers (UAW) Union, 1944, a post that brought his return to Michigan.
In 1948 Crockett became a member of the legal team that defended eleven Communist leaders including Gus Hall, the head of the U.S. Communist Party, and former New York City Councilman Benjamin J. Davis, who were charged with violating the Smith Act. While defending his clients, Crockett and four other defense attorneys were sentenced by Federal Judge Harold Medina to the U.S. Penitentiary in Ashland, Kentucky for contempt of court. Crockett served four months in prison before being released in 1952. Soon after his release Crockett represented future Detroit Mayor Coleman Young who was investigated by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.
In 1964 Crockett led a team of lawyers in Jackson,