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African-American History
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Thurgood Marshall
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Thurgood MarshallThurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 - January 24, 1993) was a prominent civil-rights lawyer and the first African-American justice of the US Supreme Court.

Thurgood Marshall was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. His name was originally spelled Thoroughgood, but Marshall shortened it to Thurgood when he was in elementary school. Thurgood Marshall's parents were William and Norma Africa Marshall; William was the chief steward at a private club and Norma was an elementary school teacher.

In 1930, Marshall graduated with honors from Lincoln University in Chester, Pennsylvania; he got his law degree from Howard University (in Washington, DC) in 1933. He then began a law practice in Baltimore, and joined the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in 1936.

Marshall was the legal director of the NAACP from 1940 until 1961. He was on the team of lawyers in the historic Supreme Court trial concerning school desegregation, Brown v. Board of Education (1954). As a result of this trial, the "separate but equal" doctrine in public education was overthrown.

Thurgood Marshall stamp
The US Post Office issued a stamp honoring Thurgood Marshall on January 7, 2003 .
In 1961, after many successful years as a lawyer and judge fighting for civil rights and women's rights, Marshall was appointed to the Second Court of Appeals (by President John F. Kennedy). In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Marshall the U.S. solicitor general (the chief legal officer of the United States working under the Attorney General, in charge of appeals to the Supreme Court). In this position, Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases that he argued for the government.

Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court in June, 1967 (by President Johnson). He was the first African-American on the Supreme Court. In the high court, Marshall continued his fight for human rights until he retired on June 27, 1991; he served on the Supreme Court for 24 years.

Marshall died of heart failure at the age of 84. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetary (in Arlington, Virginia), near the graves of other Supreme Court Justices.


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