“Unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever begin to live together.”
– Justice Thurgood Marshall, Milliken v. Bradley dissent (1974)
Baltimore’s own Thurgood Marshall served as the first African American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from October 1967 until October 1991.
Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 2, 1908. He attended Frederick Douglass High School, graduating a year early in 1925, and then went to Lincoln University. Marshall wanted to study at University of Maryland School of Law, but he did not apply because of the school’s segregation policy. Instead, he attended Howard University School of Law, graduating first in his class in 1933. In 1935, he successfully sued the University of Maryland School of Law in Murray v. Pearson, ending segregation at that school.
After graduating from law school, Marshall started a private law practice in Baltimore and also began his 25-year affiliation with the NAACP. In 1940, he founded and became the executive director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Before becoming a judge, Marshall was best known for his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court, especially for the victory in Brown v. Board of Education, the decision that desegregated public schools.
From 1961-65, Marshall served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; in 1965, he was appointed Solicitor General of the United States by President Lyndon B. Johnson. President Johnson then nominated him to the United States Supreme Court in 1967, where he served until 1991.
Justice Marshall passed away in January 1993 at the age of 84. Later that year, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.
Inspired by Justice Marshall’s lifetime of service and commitment to the cause of school desegregation, the Thurgood Marshall Alliance is honored to dedicate itself to his memory. Our hope is that it will make a tangible difference in the lives of Baltimore’s children by advancing the remedy that Justice Marshall so eloquently enunciated from the bench.