Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall, 1908–93, U.S. lawyer and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1967–91), b. Baltimore. He received his law degree from Howard Univ. in 1933. In 1936 he joined the legal staff of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. As its chief counsel (1938–61), he argued more than 30 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in higher education. His presentation of the argument against the "separate but equal" doctrine achieved its greatest impact with the landmark decision handed down in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954). His appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1961 was opposed by some Southern senators and was not confirmed until 1962. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the Supreme Court two years later; he was the first black to sit on the high court, where he consistently supported the position taken by those challenging discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. His support for affirmative action led to his strong dissent in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978). As appointments by Presidents Nixon and Reagan changed the outlook of the Court, Marshall found himself increasingly in the minority; in retirement he was outspoken in his criticism of the court.

See M. G. Long, ed., Marshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood Marshall (2011); biography by J. Williams (1998); studies by R. W. Bland (1973) and H. Ball (1999); R. Kluger, Simple Justice (1976); W. Haygood, Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America (2015).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Thurgood Marshall: Selected full-text books and articles

Thurgood Marshall: A Biography By Glenn L. Starks; F. Erik Brooks Greenwood, 2012
A Representative Supreme Court? The Impact of Race, Religion, and Gender on Appointments By Barbara A. Perry Greenwood Press, 1991
Librarian's tip: "Thurgood Marshall" begins on p. 96
Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey By Mary L. Dudziak Princeton University Press, 2011 (New edition)
Distinguished African American Political and Governmental Leaders By James Haskins Oryx Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: "Thurgood Marshall" begins on p. 159
Hearts and Minds: A Personal Chronicle of Race in America By Harry S. Ashmore Seven Locks Press, 1988 (Revised edition)
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Thurgood Marshall begins on p. 154
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Fight for Freedom: The Story of the NAACP By Langston Hughes W. W. Norton, 1962
Librarian's tip: "Mr. Desegregation" begins on p. 127
The Civil Rights Movement By Peter B. Levy Greenwood Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: "Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)" begins on p. 137
Historical Dictionary of School Segregation and Desegregation: The American Experience By Jeffrey A. Raffel Greenwood Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: "Marshall, Thurgood" begins on p. 155
African-American Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook By Richard W. Leeman Greenwood Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: "Thurgood Marshall: (1908-1993), Lawyer, Supreme Court Justice" begins on p. 249
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