As the grandson of slaves, Thurgood Marshall was born July 2, 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland. When segregation policies denied Marshall admission to the University of Maryland Law School he decided to attend Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C. instead.
As a lawyer Marshall argued several civil rights cases before the Supreme Court but as the Chief Counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) he argued his most popular case the famous Brown vs. Board of Education case which ignited nationwide integration in 1954. Marshall was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court on June 13, 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Television and film actor, Laurence Fishburne, who is best known as the patriarch Morpheus in the Matrix trilogy and the newest cast member on CBS's hit series CSI, is currently portraying a real American icon. Fishburne has revived his 2008 role as the first African American U. S. Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, in the one-man play, "Thurgood" currently playing at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Fishburne stated that Marshall's life work "has affected everybody in this country in really, really important ways." While Marshall retired from the Supreme Court in 1991, one of his law clerks, Elena Kagan is following in his footsteps. In May 2010, President Barack Obama nominated Elena Kagan to replace Justice John Paul Stevens and Kagan remarked, "Thurgood Marshall did more to promote justice over the course of his legal career than did any lawyer in his lifetime."
"Only one thing can justify continued segregation. And that is a determination that the people who were once held in slavery be kept as near to that condition as is possible. And now is the time for the court to make it clear that that is not what the Constitution of the United States stands for." Thurgood Marshall
"The law is a weapon if you know how to use it." Thurgood Marshall
"I love what I do. And my work is my service. And I couldn't imagine not doing it." Laurence Fishborne
1. What is segregation?
2. What is integration?
3. What was the Brown vs. Board of Education case?
1. What did you learn about Thurgood Marshall from this video?
2. What does Laurence Fishborne mean when he says Thurgood Marshall's "life's work has affected everybody in this country in really, really important ways."?
3. How might different life experiences affect the way a judge decides a case?
4. How does the Supreme Court affect your life?
Read the transcript: