Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

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Thurgood Marshall, born July 2, 1908 and died January 24, 1993, was an American lawyer and civil rights activist who served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from October 1967 until October 1991. Marshall was the Court’s first African-American justice. Prior to his judicial service, he successfully argued several cases before the Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Marshall graduated from the Howard University School of Law in 1933. He established a private legal practice in Baltimore before founding the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where he served as executive director. In that position, he argued several cases before the Supreme Court, including  Smith v. AllwrightShelley v. Kraemer, and Brown v. Board of Education, the latter of which held that racial segregation in public education is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Four years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Marshall as the United States Solicitor General. In 1967, Johnson successfully nominated Marshall to succeed retiring Associate Justice Tom C. Clark as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Marshall retired during the administration of President George H. W. Bush, and was succeeded by Clarence Thomas.

Resources

Amazing Americans: Thurgood Marshall by Kristen Kemp

Teach students about significant African Americans and how their actions have helped shape US history. With this biography, students will learn about Thurgood Marshall and how his fight for civil rights for African Americans helped change unfair laws. Colorful images, supporting text, a glossary, table of contents, and index all work together to help readers better understand the content and be fully engaged from cover to cover. This informative, colorful book uses primary sources to captivate readers as they learn social studies topics.

Thurgood by Jonah Winter

Thurgood Marshall was a born lawyer–the loudest talker, funniest joke teller, and best arguer from the time he was a kid growing up in Baltimore in the early 1900s. He would go on to become the star of his high school and college debate teams, a stellar law student at Howard University, and, as a lawyer, a one-man weapon against the discriminatory laws against black Americans. After only two years at the NAACP, he was their top lawyer and had earned himself the nickname Mr. Civil Rights. He argued–and won–cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most important cases in American history: Brown v Board of Education. And he became the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice in history.

The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy by Kekia Magoon

Growing up in Baltimore, Thurgood Marshall could see that things weren’t fair. The laws said that Black and white people couldn’t use the same schools, parks, or water fountains.

When Thurgood had to read the Constitution as punishment for a prank at school, his eyes were opened. It was clear to him that Jim Crow laws were wrong, and he was willing to do whatever it took to change them.

His determination to make sure all Americans were treated equally led him to law school and then the NAACP, where he argued cases like Brown v. Board of Education in front of the Supreme Court. But to become a Justice on the highest court in the land, Thurgood had to make space for himself every step of the way.

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