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THURGOOD MARSHALL

African-American Justice of the Supreme Court (1908-1993)

One of the greatest fighters of civil rights, Thurgood Marshall was born on July 2, 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland.  He achieved national recognition for his civil rights achievements as a lawyer and late as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Marshall attended public schools in Baltimore. He is a product of Frederick Douglass High School.  Later Marshall graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and Howard University Law School in Washington, D.c. 

Marshall returned to his native Baltimore to practice law.  Most of his clients were people who made a modest living.  Many could not afford the services he rendered.  However, personal circumstances did not stop him from handling the problems that were presented to him.  Marshall handled numerous cases involving legal disputes, police brutality, eviction, and other civil rights issues.  Due to his untiring dedication and skillful court presentations, he became known as the "littleman's lawyer," 

In 1934, Marshall was appointed as an assistant to special counsel Charles Hamilton Houston, who worked for the Baltimore branch of the NAACP.  In 1938, Marshall became a special assistant to the NAACP, Marshall represented clients with civil rights cases all over the United States.  He won thirty-two out of thirty-five cases taken to the Supreme Court.  His reputation spread throughout the United States for his outstanding work. Marshall was known as the greatest constitutional lawyer of this century when he served as chief attorney for the NAACP. 

Marshall was nominated by President John F. Kennedy for appointment to the Second Supreme Court of Appeals in 1961.  The appointment was confirmed by the Senate, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Marshall for appointment as Solicitor General of the U.S., and eventually nomination to the highest court as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.  This nomination was indeed a historical event.  When Marshall took his oath in June of 1967, he became the first African-American to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court.  Justice Marshall received many awards and citations for his outstanding contributions to the field of civil rights. 

 

Revised: July 18, 2013.