Thurgood Marshall was a very important figure in ending legal segregation in the US and became the Supreme Court’s first African-American justice. He also served as counsel to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and utilized the judiciary to champion equality for black people. He also ended racial segregation in public schools in 1954, where he won the Brown v. Board of Education case at the Supreme Court. Let us have a deeper look into Marshall’s life by knowing his accomplishments.
1. He Graduated From The Lincoln University With Honors.
In 1926, after graduating from high school, Marshall attended Lincoln University, which is a historically black college in Pennsylvania. There, he became a member of a highly distinguished student body that included the future president of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah, the famous poet Langston Hughes and the famous jazz singer Cab Calloway. He graduated from this university with honors in 1930.
2. He Graduated Magna Cum Laude From The Howard University.
After being rejected by the University of Maryland Law School because of his color, Marshall instead attended law school at the Howard University in Washington, D.C., which is another historically black school. At the time, the university dean was Charles Houston, a pioneering civil rights lawyer, as well as a known notorious disciplinarian and extraordinarily demanding professor, who then put Marshall under his tutelage. Marshall then graduated magna cum laude from Howard in 1933.
3. He Was Elected a Judge For The US Second Circuit Court Of Appeals.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall as a US Second Circuit Court of Appeals judge. Serving as such over the next 4 years, he issued more than a hundred decisions, and none of those was overturned by the Supreme Court.
4. He Became The First Black Solicitor General In The US.
After the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Marshall to serve as the first black solicitor general in the US in 1965, the one who is designated to argue on behalf of the federal government before the Supreme Court. During his 2-year term of office as solicitor general, Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases he argued before the Supreme Court.
5. He Became The First African American Supreme Court Justice.
In 1967, President Johnson nominated Marshall to serve on the Supreme Court, taking the oath as a Supreme Court justice and becoming the first African American to serve on the highest court in the country. During this time, the court was headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, who aligned with Marshall’s views on the Constitution and politics. Marshall consistently supported rulings that strongly protect liberal interpretations of controversial social issues and individual rights. He was also one of those who ruled in favor of the right to abortion in the 1973 case Roe v. Wade. In the 1972 case Furman v. Georgia, he articulated his opinion that the death penalty was unconstitutional in any circumstance, leading to a de facto moratorium on such a punishment.
Marshall stands alongside Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. as one of the most important figures of the American Civil Rights Movement. Though Marshall might be the least popularly celebrated among the three, he was arguably the most instrumental in the achievements of the movement towards racial equality. He died on the 24th of January 1993 at the age of 84.