Thurgood Marshall Essay, Research Paper
After the Reconstruction period, African Americans had won freedom and no longer were seen as processions of the whiteman, although, something even more evil existed, segregation. This problem made life for many black people an ever-continuing struggle. Black people were forced to attend separate schools, churches, hotels, and even restaurants. At the time, white males dominated the work force and many African Americans rarely found well paying jobs. The court system judged people of color more harshly than people of white skin, which led to unfair sentences and lynchings. A lynching is when a person is hanged or executed without a trial; they were very common during this time period. African Americans could only take so much of this, they cried out against the unequal ways that white people practiced. Foundations were formed to aid these people and bring justice to the society they were living in. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was probably the most significant of these foundations. This was the same organization that Thurgood Marshall became the leading lawyer of.
Thurgood Marshall was born in the year of 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was prepped and raised by his mother, Norma Arica Marshall, and his father, William Canfield Marshall. Thurgood’s mother was one of the first African Americans to graduate from Colombia University and his father was the first black person to serve on Baltimore’s grand jury in the 20th century. Their accomplishments influenced young Thurgood in the years yet to come.
Thurgood was always top of his game and graduating from an all black high school in Baltimore at 16 and graduating from Howard Law School in Washington D.C. first of his class, proved it. During his time at Howard, Thurgood met and eventually married his first wife, Vivian Burey. After finishing up law school in 1933, Thurgood moved to New York City, where he was later recruited as a staff lawyer to NAACP.
During his years spent with the NAACP, Thurgood helped develop a strategy to fight racial segregation throughout the United States. He brought many cases before numerous courts but the cases he brought before the Supreme Court were his greatest achievements. Thurgood won almost all of the cases he argued before the Supreme Court. Through his court victories, he convinced the courts to strike down practices in several states that prevented blacks from voting. Due to Thurgood, the Supreme Court agreed that courts could not enforce private agreements not to sell land to black people. These were major steps forward in the struggle to end segregation but Thurgood?s most important victory came in a case dealing with racial segregation in public schools, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Thurgood managed to persuade the court to unanimously declare segregation in public schools unconstitutional under the ?equal protection clause? of the Fourteenth Amendment. In addition to the victory of this case, Thurgood fought to win six other Supreme Court cases during the 1950s, leading to the desegregation of public parks, swimming pools, local bus systems and athletic facilities.
Even after his retirement as a lawyer for the NAACP, Thurgood continued to fight for the rights of racial minorities, the uneducated and the poor. In 1965, Thurgood was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Lyndon Johnson and later confirmed by the Senate to the role of an associate justice. He became the first black justice to serve in the Supreme Court in the history of the U.S. With this high ranking position, Thurgood was determined to end inequality once and for all in the U.S. Up until his death in 1993, Thurgood Marshall wrote more than 300 papers and essays on his personal beliefs and court cases that he had dealt with. He declared that his papers should be open for immediate use by scholars, journalists, and others.
I selected Thurgood Marshall because I believe he made the most significant difference in the U.S. as far as eliminating unequal racial treatment, an even bigger difference than such famous people as Martin Luther King Jr. made. Over the course of less than a century, Thurgood shaped the U.S. to be a much more open and equal nation for African Americans and people of other racial minorities. He was an incredible person and I enjoyed researching him as well as writing a report on him.
To be quite honest, I really did not have an as realistic understanding on the time era racial segregation occurred before I researched Thurgood Marshall. To learn how evil and cruel white people were back then disgusted me. To understand this helped me in many ways to discover how much effort Thurgood put into ending this period of inequality. In a way, I believe that if Thurgood Marshall had never been born, racial segregation would still exist today. That is why I think Thurgood?s role in history was so important.