Thurgood Marshall was born on July 2, 1908, the grandson of a slave.
Graduating from high school in 1925, Marshall attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he studied alongside poet and author Langston Hughes, the future President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, and musician Cab Calloway. He married before graduation from college. His marriage to Vivian “Buster” Burey last twenty-five years. She died from cancer in 1955.
He was denied admission to the University of Maryland Law School in 1930 because he was Black. That same year, he was accepted and admitted to Howard University Law School. Hi dean there, Charles Hamilton Houston, advocated the need to overturn the 1898 Supreme Court ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson. It established the legal doctrine called, “separate but equal.”
Marshall’s first major court case came in 1933. He successfully sued the University of Maryland to admit a young African American Amherst University graduate.
He later became Chief Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The United Nations and the United Kingdom tapped Marshall to assist in drafting the constitutions of the emerging African nations of Ghana and what is now Tanzania.
President John F. Kennedy appointed Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1954. President Lyndon Johnson appointed Judge Marshall to the office of U.S. Solicitor General in 1965. He was nominated to the United States Supreme Court in 1967.
He died on January 24, 1993.
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