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Thurgood Marshall Exhibit

Release date: September 04, 2008

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall was born on July 2, 1908 and raised in Baltimore. He attended Lincoln University and studied law at Howard University. Shortly after graduation from law school, Marshall became associated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and later became the head of the organization's Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Marshall was a key strategist in the legal effort to dismantle racial segregation in housing, voting, and education. He was chief counsel in the historic cases known as Brown v. Board of Education.

President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Four years later, President Lyndon Johnson appointed him as solicitor general. Johnson turned to Marshall in 1967 to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Marshall was the first African American to serve on the Court. He was an unrepentant liberal whose commitment to equality only expanded during his years of service. He remained true to the values of freedom and equality despite the erosion of the liberal majority that he helped sustain when he was first appointed. In one of his last opinions (Dissenting from a conservative majority), Marshall declared that "[p]ower, not reason, is the new currency of this Court's decision making." He retired in 1991 when his health deteriorated. Marshall died of heart failure in January 1993.

From the US Supreme Court Media OYEZ site