How Did Thurgood Marshall Influence The Civil Rights Movement

759 Words4 Pages

The Civil Rights Movement, which was at its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, was a time period in which African Americans fought to secure equal opportunities and access for basic rights and privileges in the US, nationally and locally. Some ways they attempted this was through negotiations, nonviolent protests and petitions (Civil Rights Movement: An Overview). People also tried to take legal course of action and one prominent figure in this aspect of the Civil Rights Movement was Thurgood Marshall. He was the first African American associate justice in the US Supreme Court and was the legal counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP. He did not conform to the formalities of law and was driven by his strong …show more content…

Early in his life, he earned his degree in law at Howard University, where he met Charles Hamilton Houston, “Dean of the law school and a pioneer in the use of litigation as a mode of social reform” (History.com). Litigation, or taking legal action, was an important part of the Civil Rights Movement and the dean inspired Marshall to pursuit it. Then he practiced law in Baltimore, Maryland from 1933 to 1938, and was part of the counsel for the Baltimore branch of the NAACP. In 1935, he assailed the discrimination and segregation present in the University of Maryland, who denied him admission because of his race, then he became the director of the NAACP’s legal department and educational finances in 1939. Before that, “He had been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the fourth, fifth, and eighth circuits, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana,” (Encyclopedia of World Biography). From 1934 up until 1961, Thurgood Marshall trekked across America as a lawyer for the NAACP arguing cases centering around racial injustice, from a mere offense to those concerning constitutional law (History.com). The most famous case he has argued was Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. This lead to an outlaw of segregation in public schools …show more content…

He was on Supreme Court for approximately twenty-four years and was persistent in advocating for individual rights and ending discrimination. He was a significant part of changes in US society at the time, some of which extended beyond civil rights. For example, he was a part of the majority vote that confirmed a woman’s right to abortion, a significant case at the time. He also had majority opinions that reflected various subjects like, “Ecology, the right of appeal of persons convicted of narcotic charges, failure to report for and submit to induction into the U. S. Armed Forces, obscenity, and the rights of Native Americans,” (Encyclopedia of World Biography). In addition, Marshall was the only liberal among the rest of justices, who were conservatives. Whenever race and gender were opposed in a case, he stood by them and was never weary about sustaining their affirmative actions. His view on the Constitution was progressive as he wanted it to enforce the government providing basic benefits to all the people equally, disregarding whether they could afford it or not (History.com). However, illness had forced Thurgood Marshall to abdicate his seat on Supreme Court in 1991, and died in 1993 at 84 years of age (Encyclopedia of World

Open Document