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Marshall’s faith was ultimately returned when he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, despite

the long shadows of prejudice and the social unrest of the period. Marshall said of LBJ, “I don’t

see how he got it through, but he did,”



Thurgood Marshall

Lawyer, Freedom Fighter, Supreme Court Judge


Born July 2, 1908, in Baltimore, Thurgood Marshall was one of the greatest fighters of civil rights in America. He was the son of a dining room steward and teacher. He achieved national recognition for his civil rights achievements as a lawyer and later as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Marshall attended public schools in Baltimore. He was the product of Frederick Douglass High School. Later, Marshall attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania to study dentistry. Marshall graduated from Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C. in 1933 at the top of his class.

Marshall returned to his native Baltimore to practice law. Most of his clients were people who made a modest living. many could not afford the services he rendered. however, personal circumstances did not stop him from handling the problems that were presented to him. Marshall handled numerous cases involving legal disputes, police brutality, evictions, and other civil rights issues. Due to his untiring dedication and skilful court presentations, he became known as the "little man's lawyer."

In 1934, Marshall was appointed as an assistant to special counsel Charles Hamilton Houston, who worked for the Baltimore branch of the NAACP. In 1938, Marshall became a special assistant to the NAACP. Marshall represented clients with civil rights cases over the United States. He won thirty-two out of thirty-five cases taken to the Supreme Court. His reputation spread throughout the United States for his outstanding work. Marshall was known as the greatest constitutional lawyer of this country when he served as chief attorney for the NAACP.

Marshall was nominated by President John F. Kennedy for appointment to the Second Supreme Court of Appeals (New York, Connecticut, and Vermont) September 23, 1961. The appointment was confirmed by the Senate. President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Judge Marshall to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. On August 30, 1967, Marshall was confirmed by the Senate to be the ninety-sixth Supreme Court Justice. He was the first African American to serve as a Justice of the Supreme court.

Justice Marshall received many awards and citations for his outstanding contributions to the field of civil rights until his death in 1993.

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Mary L. Dudziak. Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey (2008)

Marshall, LBJ and the Court

LBJ Broke New Ground; Will the Next President Have a Similar Opportunity?

When he tap Thurgood Marshall for the U.S. Supreme Court in the summer of 1967, Lyndon Baines Johnson made history: The great-grandson of an African American slave was nominated to join the nation’s highest court.

“Lyndon Johnson was tremendously proud of the nomination,” says USC legal scholar Mary L. Dudziak. “Johnson was focused on what the achievement would say to all the African American children in the land, what they could aspire to in their own lives.”

After the Marshall appointment, it would be another 14 years before another appointment of equal symbolism occurred: the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan.

In the past two decades, the nomination and confirmation process has been more about the politics of right vs. left than about reflecting the new diversity of America, says Dudziak, who sees the upcoming centennial of Marshall’s birth on July 2 as an opportunity to reflect on the politics and symbolism of Supreme Court nominees.

Dudziak’s new book, Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey, traces Marshall’s progression from civil rights attorney to a legal figure of international prominence who, among other achievements, crafted a draft bill of rights for Kenya, which in the early 1960s was transitioning into statehood after years of British colonial rule.

“Marshall had faith in law as a means of social change,” says Dudziak. “It came out of his experience trying to achieve social change in a context that was laced with violence. He believed that law had historically played a role in putting down African Americans through slavery and disenfranchisement — and that it was in part through law that equality would be achieved.”

Marshall’s faith was ultimately returned when he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, despite the long shadows of prejudice and the social unrest of the period. Marshall said of LBJ, “I don’t see how he got it through, but he did,” notes Dudziak in her book. “This is a shining hour,” Sen. Mike Mansfield said when announcing the news to Johnson. “We have come a long, long way toward equal access to the Constitution’s promise.”

Will the next president of the United States have a chance to make history with a Supreme Court nomination? Dudziak says an obvious opportunity — the appointment of an openly-gay jurist to the court — could become a political battleground, as Marshall’s nomination was. But with more support for full inclusion of gays and lesbians, this milestone will eventually be achieved, she says.

Dudziak believes there is an opportunity for the next president to speak directly to the American public through the nomination process. “Either candidate might break barriers and make history with a court appointment,” she concludes.

Source: Exporting American Dreams Blog

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Mary L. Dudziak. Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey (2008)



"Effectively sketches those events in the civil rights movement... Dudziak's clarity and careful documentation make her book accessible to the general reader and a valuable tool for African and African-American studies."
—Publishers Weekly

"Dudziak brings out with impressive clarity how Thurgood Marshall's greatness stemmed from his Whitman-esque ability to contain multitudes: committed to the rule of law, he could chide Kenya's new leadership for departing even slightly from it, work for justice in segregated America, and sustain a relationship with young civil rights activists taking direct and 'illegal' action in the early 1960s."

—Mark Tushnet, Harvard Law School and author of Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1956-1961

"This book on a less-studied part of Marshall's career is recommended for libraries collecting in law, legal processes, and African and African American history."—Library Journal

"In this gem of a book, Mary Dudziak brings vividly to life the important but little known history of Thurgood Marshall's intense involvement with Kenya during its journey toward independence in the 1960s. This great champion of the American civil rights struggle never relinquished his hope that democracy and equality would one day flourish in Kenya, even as he became painfully aware of the obstacles that stood in the path of this dream. A powerful and poignant story, beautifully told."
—Gary Gerstle, Vanderbilt University and author of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century

"By dint of creative and exhaustive research, Mary Dudziak has written an excellent book about a facet of Thurgood Marshall's career that has never before received substantial attention. Who knew that 'Mr. Civil Rights' contributed significantly to African as well as American legal systems. All students of this great man's life owe a major debt to Professor Dudziak's labors."
—Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School and author of Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal

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Thurgood Marshall Speaks To Obama From Beyond the Grave

By Dan Froomkin


Barack Obama and I went to see "Thurgood" at the Kennedy Center over the weekend. We didn't exactly go together. In fact we didn't even go on the same night (he went Friday, I went Saturday). But if we had anything like the same experience, the president emerged inspired and emboldened. Then again, considering the timing, and his recent choice of Supreme Court nominee, maybe he emerged abashed. "Thurgood" is the extraordinary one-man show in which actor Laurence Fishburne completely transforms himself into Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights hero who became the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

Fishburne's Thurgood is a compelling, funny, ferociously independent-minded man, and as George Stevens Jr.'s electrifying script reveals, his most dramatic moments actually came before he donned judicial robes, during his 25 years as a lawyer for the NAACP bravely using the law as a weapon to end legal segregation in this country. His most celebrated victory was the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, in which the Supreme Court declared an end to the "separate but equal" system of racial segregation in public schools.Watching Marshall's life unfold is exhilarating—a moving testament to one principled man's ability to change a whole society for the better. And watching it on Saturday night, I couldn't help but feel like the night before, Fishburne must have been directing his performance to one member of the audience in particular.

The real message of "Thurgood" is a celebration of courage—Marshall's, mostly, but also LBJ's, for nominating such a controversial figure to the bench and then twisting the requisite arms in the Senate to get him confirmed. And that's where it gets a bit double-edged. Because the play reminds us that there was a time when courage was not necessarily disqualifying from public service. Marshall, in his time, was a radical—and I gather there was some talk of his drinking and carousing, too, for good measure. But Johnson picked him and stuck by him.

By contrast, rather than nominate a modern-day radical—say, an outspoken gay rights activist—or even someone dramatically on the left side of the legal spectrum, Obama recently picked Elena Kagan, whose most significant qualification appears to have been that she successfully avoided doing anything the least bit controversial—or courageous— over the course of her long legal career. Sure, the civil rights battles aren't as big as they were anymore (thank goodness) but there's still a lot to be courageous about.

Maybe next time—assuming he gets a next time—Obama will be bolder. God knows Republican presidents aren't bashful about who they nominate. Indeed, the one downside to seeing "Thurgood" is that it makes the first President Bush's decision to replace him with right-wing puppet Clarence Thomas feel like a fresh wound. I wonder what Obama took away from his night at the theater. I know he must have been impressed by Fishburne's tour-de-force performance, if nothing else. Maybe he could take a lesson there: Even if you're not Thurgood Marshall, act like you are.

14 June 2010

Source: HuffingtonPost

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A Defiant Life: Thurgood Marshall & The Persistence of Racism in America

By Howard Ball

Thurgood Marshall's extraordinary contribution to civil rights and overcoming racism is more topical than ever, as the national debate on race and the overturning of affirmative action policies make headlines nationwide. Howard Ball, author of eighteen books on the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary, has done copious research for this incisive biography to present an authoritative portrait of Marshall the jurist. Born to a middle-class black family in "Jim Crow" Baltimore at the turn of the century, Marshall's race informed his worldview from an early age. He was rejected by the University of Maryland Law School because of the color of his skin. He then attended Howard University's Law School, where his racial consciousness was awakened by the brilliant lawyer and activist Charlie Houston. Marshall suddenly knew what he wanted to be: a civil rights lawyer, one of Houston's "social engineers." As the chief attorney for the NAACP, he developed the strategy for the legal challenge to racial discrimination. His soaring achievements and his lasting impact on the nation's legal system--as the NAACP's advocate, as a federal appeals court judge, as President Lyndon Johnson's solicitor general, and finally as the first African American Supreme Court Justice--are symbolized by Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case that ended legal segregation in public schools.

Using race as the defining theme, Ball spotlights Marshall's genius in working within the legal system to further his lifelong commitment to racial equality. With the help of numerous, previously unpublished sources, Ball presents a lucid account of Marshall's illustrious career and his historic impact on American civil rights.

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Laurence Fishburne stars in Thurgood written by George Stevens Jr., the dramatic retelling of the life of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Jun 1 - 20, 2010  Eisenhower Theater  / 90 minutes   $25.00 - $90.00

Laurence Fishburne in Thurgood, A play by George Stevens Jr., Directed by Leonard Foglia

Absorbing, at times even stirring—The New York Times
"There ought to be a law--all bio-dramas should be as vivid and entertaining as Thurgood.—New York Daily News
"Rich in history, humanity and humor—New York Daily News
In Thurgood, Tony Award–winning actor Laurence Fishburne reprises his Broadway role as Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to be appointed to the Supreme Court. From his early days as the civil rights lawyer who argued Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, a landmark case which led to the end of institutionalized segregation, to his appointment to the highest court in the land, Thurgood Marshall stood for justice while lifting the standing of his race.
In a fictional lecture on his life given by Thurgood Marshall at his alma mater, Howard University, Fishburne deftly shifts among characters, moving from Thurgood as a young and spirited man to a pensive Justice full of wisdom, and at times inhabiting the friends and foes that were met along the way. "Fishburne is magnetic as Marshall," says the New York Daily News. "He captures the justice's drive and everyday essence as well as his wry—if sometimes crass--wit." In the end, Thurgood proves that it is possible to work within the rule of law while remaining true to the rule of the heart.   Performance Timing:  90 minutes without intermission.

Source:  Kennedy Center

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Africa Makes Some Noise—Documentary on contemporary music from Africa

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#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

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#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

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#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

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#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
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A Matter Of Law: A Memoir Of Struggle In The Cause Of Equal Rights

By Robert L. Carter and Foreword by John Hope Franklin

Robert Lee Carter (March 11, 1917 – January 3, 2012) insisted on using the research of the psychologist Kenneth B. Clark to attack segregated schools, a daring courtroom tactic in the eyes of some civil rights lawyers. Experiments by Mr. Clark and his wife, Mamie, showed that black children suffered in their learning and development by being segregated. Mr. Clark’s testimony proved crucial in persuading the court to act, Mr. Carter wrote in a 2004 book, “A Matter of Law: A Memoir of Struggle in the Cause of Equal Rights.” As chief deputy to the imposing Mr. Marshall, who was to become the first black Supreme Court justice, Mr. Carter labored for years in his shadow. In the privacy of legal conferences, Mr. Carter was seen as the house radical, always urging his colleagues to push legal and constitutional positions to the limits. He recalled that Mr. Marshall had encouraged him to play the gadfly:

“I was younger and more radical than many of the people Thurgood would have in, I guess. But he’d never let them shut me up.” Robert Lee Carter was born in Caryville, in the Florida Panhandle . . . . NYTimes   Oral History  Archive   / Pedagogical Uses of African Histories  /  Dedication to Human Rights and Human Kindness

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

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Obama's America and the New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander) / Michelle_Alexander Part II Democracy Now (Video)

Michelle Alexander Speaks At Riverside Church /  part 2 of 4  / part 3 of 4  / part 4 of 4

There are more African Americans under correctional control today--in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas, like Chicago, have been labeled felons for life. These men are part of a growing undercaste, not class, caste—a group of people who are permanently relegated, by law, to an inferior second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits—much as their grandparents and great-grandparents once were during the Jim Crow era.Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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