Our Bi-monthly Profile of a Great HBCU Alum Who Isn't With us Anymore
(1908 – 1993)
Presented to you
By K. Lerone Hardy – September 23, 2021
In this latest monthly edition of our feature, Not Forgotten, we highlight another HBCU alum who isn’t with us anymore, the late Supreme court Justice of The United State, The honorable Thurgood Marshall. A proud alum of both Lincoln & Howard University.
Justice Thurgood Marshall was an example of someone who had a significant positive impact on the world around him.
From being a young activist to his life as a Justice, he worked through the system to improve the lives of those around him. He was at the forefront of some of the biggest decisions in the American justice system.
Who was he, though? Where did he start, and what else can we learn about this man?
Before the Supreme Court
Before Thurgood Marshall was the first-ever African American to receive a nomination for a seat on the Supreme Court, he grew up in Baltimore. After graduating from high school, he attended Lincoln University and Howard University School of Law.
In both of these locations, he gained a great deal of acclaim among his fellow black students.
After graduating first in his class, Marshall hit the ground running in representing black individuals in the USA. He represented the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Murray v. Pearson. In doing so, he set a legal precedent in ending segregation in Maryland.
He then won Chambers v. Florida, in which he proved that a pressured confession violates due process. Following this, he became a founding member of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The NAACP LDF became a legal organization that played a major role in assisting the civil rights movement years before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, became a worldwide figure.
Thurgood Marshall’s Cases
While he served as executive director of the NAACP LDF, Thurgood Marshall continued to argue for his clients. These included landmark cases in the progress of civil rights for black Americans, such as:
• Smith v. Allright. In this case, Marshall proved that only holding election primaries for whites was a breach of voting rights.
• Shelley v. Kraemer. This was a case that held that the state could not enforce restrictions on who could buy a house on racial lines as per the Fourteenth Amendment.
• Brown v. Board of Education. In this case, Marshall argued that U.S. laws enforcing or establishing racial segregation in public schools fell foul of the U.S. Constitution.
• Brown v. Board of Education was one of the most significant cases in U.S. history. It led to the desegregation of schools across the country. This was a landmark case, and Marshall’s charismatic and convincing arguments were pivotal in the victory.
It was no surprise that he achieved the title of Associate Justice, a role he kept from October 1967 until October 1991.