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  • Bonita Amenta Cutliff

Marshall Law


Born in Maryland on July 2, 1908, Thurgood Marshall was the grandson of a slave. His father, William Marshall, instilled in him, an appreciation for the United States Constitution and the rule of law. After completing high school in 1925, Thurgood and his brother attended the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. His classmates included a distinguished group of future Black leaders such as the poet and author Langston Hughes, the future President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, and musician Cab Calloway.

In 1930, he applied to the University of Maryland Law School, but was denied admission because he was Black. It was these types of events that ended up motivating him and direct his future professional life.


He was accepted into the Howard University Law School where he met his dean and later mentor Charles Hamilton Houston. Marshall fought his first major court case in 1933, successfully suing the University of Maryland for refusing to admit a young African American University graduate named Donald Gaines Murray.


Later, Thurgood Marshall followed his Howard University mentor, Charles Houston to New York and later became Chief Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During this period, Mr. Marshall was asked by the United Nations and the United Kingdom to help draft the constitutions of the emerging African nations of Ghana and what is now Tanzania.


After amassing an impressive record of Supreme Court challenges to state-sponsored discrimination, including the landmark Brown v. Board decision in 1954, President John F. Kennedy appointed Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson appointed Judge Marshall to the office of U.S. Solicitor General. Before his subsequent nomination to the United States Supreme Court in 1967. Justice Thurgood Marshall represented and won more cases before the United States Supreme Court than any other American.

Marshall had a profound sensitivity to injustice and established a record for supporting the voiceless American. He was the first African American lawyer to serve as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1967 to 1991.


Image "Thurgood Marshall" a mixed media work with wood, acrylic, glitter and glass by artist Mack Bishop III.

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