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Young Thurgood : the making of a Supreme Court Justice

Author: Larry S Gibson
Publisher: Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, ©2012.
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
A close examination of Thurgood Marshall's earlier formative years in Maryland when his personality, attitudes, priorities, and work habits had crystallized.
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Genre/Form: Biography
Named Person: Thurgood Marshall
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Larry S Gibson
ISBN: 9781616145712 1616145714
OCLC Number: 764387221
Description: 413 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Contents: Is there an investigation taking place? --
The Baltimore Grocers' grandson --
Marshall's high school years --
Lincoln University --
Educating a social engineer --
A new lawyer joins the brotherhood --
Buy where you can work --
Black and white and red all over --
The civil cases --
The criminal cases --
The murder of Kater Stevens --
The first step on the road to Brown --
Becoming a leader among lawyers --
The Baltimore County HIgh School case --
Financial pressures and career decision --
Commuting back for equal teacher pay.
Responsibility: Larry S. Gibson.

Abstract:

A close examination of Thurgood Marshall's earlier formative years in Maryland when his personality, attitudes, priorities, and work habits had crystallized.

"If black students got pressure from home, their teachers kept up the intensity. Gibson explains that Baltimore's black schools were stocked with dedicated teachers. "Employment options for educated blacks outside the teaching profession were limited," he says, and the academic credentials of black high school teachers in Baltimore City often exceeded those of their white counterparts. There were few avenues to advance in careers as a doctor, architect, engineer or lawyer at that matter. Using data compiled in the late 1920s, Gibson reveals that in some parts of the South the ratio of black citizens to black lawyers was as great as 200,000 to 1 and that many jurisdictions did not allow black lawyers to practice in their courts. Marshall graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1925, and following in the path of his older brother, he enrolled at the predominantly black Lincoln University in Chester, Pa. There he joined such future notables as poet Langston Hughes, civil rights advocate Clarence Mitchell Jr., and Kwame Nkrumah, first president of an independent Ghana. He also met and married his first wife, Vivian 'Buster' Burey, shortly before his graduation cum laude in 1930. Gibson describes Lincoln as the 'Black Princeton.' Founded in 1854, Lincoln became the first degree-granting college for African-Americans. At Lincoln, Marshall honed debating skills engendered in high school, becoming the first freshman to win a spot on the varsity debate team. Gibson reminds us that competitive debating was a national sensation among colleges at that time. More than 3,000 people heard Marshall strongly condemn European colonialism, in a debate against a team from England. Black newspapers, including Baltimore's Afro-American and the Philadelphia Tribune, reported on the competitions as a matter of course. Commenting on Marshall's debate performance as a sophomore, the Tribune told readers that "with possibly a little more experience, Thurgood should stand preeminently above most of the debaters of color in collegiate competitions in the country." Marshall's most memorable debate came against a team from Harvard University. The topic was intermixing of races, and the Lincoln team was assigned to argue that intermixing was undesirable. Gibson sets the record straight on Marshall's 'rejection' from the University of Maryland School of Law. Knowing of the school's color bar, he never applied. For decades, the rejection tale has been making the rounds. Marshall was accepted by Howard University Law School in 1930. At that time, the school accounted for more than 70% of black lawyers in the nation, Gibson says. The school had recently engaged a new dean, a selection that would have far-reaching ramifications for the career of Marshall. Charles Hamilton Houston was arguably the single most important figure in Marshall's life apart from members of his family. Marshall took to heart advice from his mentor, that unless black lawyers were 'social engineers' they were 'parasites.' Marshall graduated magna cum laude in 1933. He opened his first law office in Baltimore in the midst of the Great Depression, when with guidance from Houston he filed successful challenges to Maryland's segregation statues. He soon joined Houston at the NAACP and the pair helped launch a series of court challenges to segregated colleges and universities across the South. Their effort culminated in 1954 with Brown vs. Board of Education, the decision outlawing segregation in public schools. Gibson neatly summarizes the key cases in their two-decades-long assault on Plessy vs. Ferguson, the 1896 Supreme Court ruling that legitimized the practice of 'Separate but Equal'-- the foundational doctrine of segregation laws. Their method was to file a stream of narrowly-focused lawsuits in state courts to obtain rulings, and thus set precedents, under a variety of circumstances in which 'separate' was inherently inequitable."--Publisher's description.

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