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Civil Rights Leader Biography

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FC: The Life of Thurgood Marshall | The man who won the Supreme Court battle and changed America. | "We make movies about Malcolm X, we get a holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, but every day we live the legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall." | Washington Afro-American-

1: Early Life | He was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1903. His grandfather was a slave, and his great-grandfather was a slave from the Democratic Republic of Congo. His last name was originally Thoroughgood, but he shortened it to Thurgood.

2: Thurgood's Education | Once Thurgood finished high school, he went to Chester, Pennsylvania and enrolled in Lincoln University. After he finished at Lincoln University, he applied for a school in his hometown, University of Maryland School of Law. Due to it's strict segregation policy, he wasn't accepted, however, he was accepted at Howard University located in Washington D.C.

3: Law Career | Thurgood Marshall then became a lawyer, and was hired by the NAACP to help clients. His first major case was Murray v. Pearson. This was personal for Thurgood, because the case was about a smart student that was rejected from a school only due to his race. | This was very similar to his experience with his hometown school, the University of Maryland School, where he was rejected even though he was a well qualified student. By the end of the case Thurgood believed that he would lose, and had taken appropriate action, however he actually won the case.

4: Thurgood Marshall continued to take cases after Murray v. Pearson, and earned quite a reputation, as he won 29 out of the 32 cases he was given. In 1940 he became a Supreme Court attorney. His line of work sometimes placed him in danger, as he had to travel to the Deep South to represent clients. One time he was almost lynched, but he managed to escape, another incident occurred at a train station, in which a man walked up to Thurgood with a large handgun and asked where he was going. Thurgood replied that he was going to Louisiana, so the man replied he should be gone before nightfall, and it was implied Thurgood would be killed if he didn't. This disturbed Thurgood, as he could have been shot on the spot and the man wouldn't have to go to court, episodes like this made him want to continue fighting against discrimination. | Law Career

5: Law Career | In the 1950s Thurgood worked with J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI, they fought with each other at first, but the they developed a respect for each other, and eventually, a friendship. He also earned the respect of John F. Kennedy and was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit | in 1961. Not everyone agreed with JFK, so Thurgood was forced to be under a "recess appointment" for a few months. He stayed on the Court for four years, and made over 150 decisions. | (1) | (2)

6: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas | This case is probably what Thurgood Marshall is best known for, as it desegregated schools, and was a landmark achievement for the Civil Rights Movement. It was started because of Linda Brown, who had to walk over a mile and through a railway switchyard to get to her African American school, while there was an all-white school only a few blocks from her house. Linda's father attempted to enroll her a the all-white school, but the principal refused. Things like this had happened before, but her family and friends rallied around her and fought the separation law. Thurgood was appointed to the case, and fought the case by stating that the segregation policy in schools made African American kids feel inferior, which was indisputable.

8: In 1965, Thurgood was appointed United States solicitor general by Lyndon B. Johnson, and was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1967 by Johnson as well. President Johnson blamed Thurgood for making him so unpopular and stopping him from having a second term, but Thurgood blamed the Vietnam War for his unpopularity. Many presidents wanted him to resign, but he stayed on the Supreme Court for 24 years, and tried to support what he always supported, which was the Constitutional protection of an individual's rights. He also opposed the death penalty, and fought it when it was deemed Constitutional. | U.S. Supreme Court

9: Leaving the Supreme Court and Death | During his time on the Supreme Court, he worked with many men that were prominent in law, such as law professors, and the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He retired on June 28, 1991, saying that "I'm getting old and coming apart", he regretted having to retire from a position he loved. He later died of heart failure at National Naval Medical Center in Maryland on January 24, 1993. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. | THE END

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  • Title: Civil Rights Leader Biography
  • A Biography of Thurgood Marshall's Life
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