- Marshall, Thurgood
- (1908-1993)The first African American to serve as a Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall was born Thoroughgood in Baltimore, Maryland. He shortened his name at an early age. He graduated from Lincoln University in 1930. Denied entrance to the University of Maryland Law School because he was African American, Marshall went instead to Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., where he graduated in 1933. At Howard, he was to be strongly influenced by Charles H. Houston, who he succeeded as chief counsel to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1939. Marshall had already won a case in Baltimore (Murray v. Pearson) in 1936 that challenged segregation in the university system in Maryland. As NAACP counsel, he successfully led a long-term attack on segregation devised by Hamilton when he argued the cases Smith v. Allwright (1944), Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), Sweatt v. Painter (1950), and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (1950), culminating with Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954). Marshall also helped draft the constitutions of the newly independent states of Ghana and Tanzania.In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and in 1965 President Lyndon Johnson made him the first African American solicitor general. Two years later he was appointed to the Supreme Court, where he took a firm liberal position supporting abortion rights, opposing the death penalty, and supporting individual civil liberties. He retired in 1991.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.