Civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall is being introduced to a whole new generation through Marshall, a biopic starring Chadwick Boseman (out October 13). But long before Hollywood choose to share his story, the Supreme Court Justice who was the grandson of slaves, was changing the world, one ruling at a time.
Despite being a passive student in high school, Marshall would become the leader of the early civil rights movement with cases like Murray v. Pearson in 1935 that admitted the first African-American into the University of Maryland School of Law since 1890. Learn more about the iconic Thurgood Marshall.
Charles Houston, Marshall’s former dean at Howard University, is credited for being a huge influence in the future Supreme Court Justice’s life. Houston recruited Marshall to serve as his deputy in 1936 and when he passed two years later, Marshall succeeded him.
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It’s been reported that his first wife was diagnosed with lung cancer during Marshall’s pivotal Brown vs Board of Education case, but did not tell him until after the ruling was made.
Admitted in 1930, Marshall won his first major case in 1933— which was a lawsuit against the University of Maryland to admit a young African American Amherst University graduate named Donald Gaines Murray. Years later he would also provide civil rights through Brown vs Board of Education (above photo) that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional.
After the death of Burey, Marshall married Cecilia Suyat the following year. Hailing from Puʻunene, Hawaii, HI she was 20 years his junior and they met when she became a stenographer for the NAACP’s New York office.
Although he was born and raised in Baltimore, the future attorney was the grandson of slaves and his father is credited for instilling in him an appreciation for the United States Constitution and the rule of law.
Marshall attended undergrad with Kwame Nkrumah who would become the first president of Ghana. Coincidentally the United Nations and the United Kingdom asked Marshall to help draft the constitutions of Ghana and what is now Tanzania years later.
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Following his brother’s footsteps, Marshall attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. There he met lifelong friends Langston Hughes and Cab Calloway. Him and Langston became roommates before he met and married his first wife, Vivian “Buster” Burey.
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