- NAME: Thurgood Marshall
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Lawyer, Judge, Supreme Court Justice
- BIRTH DATE: July 02, 1908
- DEATH DATE: January 24, 1993
- Did You Know?: In 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court.
- EDUCATION: Lincoln University, Howard University School of Law, Colored High and Training School (Frederick Douglass High School)
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Baltimore, Maryland
- PLACE OF DEATH: Bethesda, Maryland
- Full Name: Thurgood Marshall
Best Known For
Thurgood Marshall was instrumental in ending legal segregation and became the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court.
The life of Thurgood Marshall was one that touched every decade of the 20th century and forever changed the course of equality in the United States of America.
As Thurgood Marshall’s health began to fail him, he still remained a force on the the Supreme Court. At age 83, he retired from the courts and passed away at the age of 85.
In 1967 Thurgood Marshall began his tenure as the first African American Supreme Court Justice.
In 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Thurgood Marshall to the post of Solicitor General, forging a strong relationship between Marshall and the President.
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During his two years as solicitor general, Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases that he argued before the Supreme Court.
Finally, in 1967, President Johnson nominated Marshall to serve on the bench before which he had successfully argued so many times before—the United States Supreme Court. On October 2, 1967, Marshall was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, becoming the first African American to serve on the nation's highest court.
Marshall joined a liberal Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, which aligned with Marshall's views on politics and the Constitution. As a Supreme Court justice, Marshall consistently supported rulings upholding a strong protection of individual rights and liberal interpretations of controversial social issues. He was part of the majority that ruled in favor of the right to abortion in the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade, among several other cases. In the 1972 case Furman v. Georgia, which led to a de facto moratorium on the death penalty, Marshall articulated his opinion that the death penalty was unconstitutional in all circumstances.
Throughout Marshall's 24-year tenure on the Court, Republican presidents appointed eight consecutive justices, and Marshall gradually became an isolated liberal member of an increasingly conservative Court. For the latter part of his time on the bench, Marshall was largely relegated to issuing strongly worded dissents, as the Court reinstated the death penalty and limited affirmative action measures and abortion rights. Marshall retired from the Supreme Court in 1991; Justice Clarence Thomas replaced him.
Thurgood Marshall died on January 24, 1993, at the age of 84.
Thurgood Marshall stands alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X as one of the greatest and most important figures of the American Civil Rights Movement. And although he may be the least popularly celebrated of the three, Marshall was arguably the most instrumental in the movement's achievements toward racial equality. Marshall's strategy of attacking racial inequality through the courts represented a third way of pursuing racial equality, more pragmatic than King's soaring rhetoric and less polemical than Malcolm X's strident separatism. In the aftermath of Marshall's death, an obituary read: "We make movies about Malcolm X, we get a holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, but every day we live with the legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall."
Marshall married Vivian "Buster" Burey in 1929, and the couple remained married until her death in 1955. Shortly thereafter, Marshall married Cecilia Suyat, his secretary at the NAACP; they had two sons, Thurgood Jr. and John Marshall.
© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
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