U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall was born July 2, 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland and died January 24, 1993. He was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court where he served from October 1967 to October 1991. The 96th justice, Marshall was the first U.S. Supreme Court justice of African descent in the United States. 

Marshall was the great-grandson of a man born in the region now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo but brought to the United States as a slave, according Stewart A. Kallen in his autobiography "Thurgood Marshall: A Dream of Justice for All". Marshall's grandfather was also born into slavery in the United States. His father, William Canfield Marshall, was the first freeman of his family and became a Pullman railroad porter. His mother, Norma Arica, was a teacher. 

"Before his appointment to serve on the Supreme Court, he represented and won more cases before the United States Supreme Court than any other American," according to The New World Encyclopedia. Before moving into the judiciary, Marshall was an active civil rights trial attorney, trained in law by the civil rights lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston, who was his law professor and professional mentor. 

Marshall's law practice included appointment as in-house legal counsel to the NAACP. As a trial attorney, Marshall may be best known for his victory in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which successfully challenged the racialist separate but equal doctrine in American society, a doctrine that was then enforced by the laws of the land. 


A Brief Thurgood Marshall Timeline

Mr. Marshall graduates with honors from Lincoln University, cum laude

Receives law degree from Howard U. (magna cum laude); begins private practice in Baltimore
Begins to work for Baltimore branch of NAACP

1935With Charles Houston, wins first major civil rights case, Murray v. Pearson


Becomes assistant special counsel for NAACP in New York


Wins first of 29 Supreme Court victories (Chambers v. Florida)


Successfully argues Smith v. Allwright, overthrowing the South's "white primary"
Wins Shelley v. Kraemer, in which Supreme Court strikes down legality of racially restrictive covenants
Wins Supreme Court victories in two graduate-school integration cases, Sweatt v. Painter and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents
Visits South Korea and Japan to investigate charges of racism in U.S. armed forces. He reported that the general practice was one of "rigid segregation".
Wins Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, landmark case that demolishes legal basis for segregation in America
Defends civil rights demonstrators, winning Supreme Circuit Court victory in Garner v. Louisiana; nominated to Second Court of Appeals by President J.F. Kennedy
Appointed circuit judge, makes 112 rulings, all of them later upheld by Supreme Court (1961-1965)
Appointed U.S. solicitor general by President Lyndon Johnson; wins 14 of the 19 cases he argues for the government (1965-1967)


Becomes first African American elevated to U.S. Supreme Court (1967-1991)


Retires from the Supreme Court
1993Dies at 84


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