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Black Activist - Thurgood Marshall

Updated on February 21, 2012

"Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds." – Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall was born July 2, 1908 in Baltimore Maryland and died January 24, 1993 in Bethesda Maryland. Marshall was rejected by the University of Maryland Law School because he was black so he attended Howard University Law School and was first in his class. Marshall viewed law as a vehicle for social change. Marshall was best known as a lawyer with a high success rate of arguing before the Supreme Court of the United States and his victory of Brown vs. the Board of Education. Marshall was the 96th justice and the first African American justice of the United States Supreme Court.


Thurgood Marshall attended Howard University Law School after being rejected by the University of Maryland Law School for being black. After graduationMarshallbegan his own private practice inBaltimore. One of his first victories was successfully suing theUniversityofMarylandfor denying an African American applicant admission to its law school because of race. Marshallalso successfully argued the case of Brown vs. Board of Education which stated that racial segregation in American public schools was unconstitutional. Marshalldistinguished himself as a lawyer by losing only three of the cases that he argued before the United States Supreme Court.


Thurgood Marshall was originally nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by President John Kennedy but was met with opposition and his confirmation was delayed. Then President Lyndon Johnson named Marshall United States solicitor general and finally nominated him to Supreme Court. Marshallbecame the 96th and first African American justice of the Supreme Court of theUnited States. While on the Supreme Court,Marshall continued to fight for equal and just treatment of minorities by the governments. As a liberalMarshall continued to struggle to have his voice and ideologies heard but was often met with opposition.


As a lawyer Thurgood Marshall fought for and was an advocate for social change and was always an activist ensuring the rights of African Americans. Marshallworked with several civil rights organizations but notably was his positions with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Marshallstarted as a staff lawyer for the NAACP then he became the lead chair in the legal office of the NAACP. FinallyMarshallwas named chief of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. As a lawyer for the NAACPMarshallwas able to use his knowledge to help create the social change that was necessary.

Thurgood Marshall was much more than a lawyer and Supreme Court Justice. Marshallwas an advocate for social change. Marshallused his knowledge of law to help defend those who could not defend themselves. Throughout his lifeMarshallcontinually supported those Americans who did not have a voice. Marshal understood that racial discrimination was an injustice and that the repercussions from racial discrimination were detrimental.Marshallfought to end discrimination with each and every one of his cases. Marshallleaves a legacy that should not be forgotten.


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    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 5 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Junko! I will check them out.

    • junko profile image

      junko 5 years ago

      Mom, Ralph has written some hubs that could be considered a tribute to Black history, check him out. Throw another log on the fire and shine another light on history

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 5 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you JDove! This one was a special request from my son. A great choice. I felt it necessary to remind people of the greatness that abounds especially during this month. Thanks again.

    • JDove-Miller profile image

      JDove-Miller 5 years ago from YOUNGSVILLE

      Thanks for the reminder. Love how your hubs fit right into our celebration of Black History Month.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 5 years ago from West Coast

      Nan - I could not agree with you more. Thank you for your comments!

      Thank you Ralph!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 5 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Nice tribute to a great American.

    • profile image

      Nan Mynatt 5 years ago

      Thurgood Marshall was one of a kind. It appears that we will never have another Jurist like Justice Marshall. Jurist Thomas helped to recind some of the EEOC that was laid down by him and others. Black activist have taken a back seat instead of moving forward in this day and age, they seem to have lost the zest to fight. I marked you up on this one too.