Thurgood Marshall’s most notable achievement among the many of his storied career is his distinction as the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. But the late legal giant’s formative years set into motion many of his ideals, and some of that will be examined in the upcoming film Marshall starring Chadwick Boseman.
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Marshall was born July 2, 1908, in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended HBCU Lincoln University in Pennsylvania with the likes of poet Langston Hughes, future president of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah, and jazz legend Cab Calloway. Marshall’s own path to greatness was well-honed too, with the mentorship of famed civil rights attorney and Howard University Law School professor Charles Houston.
The path to Howard wasn’t Marshall’s first choice. Despite being beyond qualified to enter law school at the University of Maryland, he was denied based on race. This inspired Marshall’s lifelong desire to fight against segregation in schools. In 1936, after being hired by the Baltimore NAACP, Marshall and Houston won the landmark “Murray v. Pearson” case, which led to Donald Murray becoming the first Black student to enter the University of Maryland’s law school.
Perhaps Marshall’s biggest victory came with the 1954 “Brown v. Board of Education” case, which effectively desegregated schools nationwide.
Fifty years ago on Oct. 2, Marshall was named as one of the United State Supreme Court justices, the first African-American to do so after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s appointment. Marshall served in the role until his retirement in 1991. He passed two years later in 1993.
Marshall opens Friday, October 13th.