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Marc A. Sennewald

civil rights attorney and U.S. Supreme Court justice. Thurgood (originally Thoroughgood) Marshall grew up on Druid Hill Avenue, which was the center of the African American working-class community in the segregated city of Baltimore. His father, William, worked as a dining car waiter on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and as head steward at the exclusive Gibson Island club on the Chesapeake Bay. Marshall's mother, Norma Arica, had studied briefly at Columbia University in New York and taught kindergarten in Baltimore's segregated schools.

Marshall was a masterful storyteller and raconteur who often embellished his narratives to make a point One of his stories had it that in grammar school he had to memorize sections of the Constitution as punishment for classroom misbehavior By the time he left the school he knew the whole thing by heart an auspicious start for the man who would become the twentieth century ...


Mark Tushnet

Raised in Baltimore, Thurgood Marshall graduated from Howard University Law School where he was one of a group of talented students who adopted the vision of their mentor, Dean Charles Hamilton Houston, of law as a form of social engineering. After working with Houston on the legal staff of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1936 to 1939, Marshall succeeded him as the NAACP's chief lawyer.

After World War II, Marshall coordinated legal challenges to segregated university education, which led to Supreme Court decisions in 1950 requiring the desegregation of graduate education in Oklahoma and Texas. Marshall himself acted as the chief trial lawyer in the South Carolina school desegregation case that was decided along with Brown. Among the other Supreme Court cases Marshall argued and won was a 1948 challenge to legal restrictions on the ability of African Americans to purchase ...


Kate Tuttle

When Thurgood Marshall died in 1993, he was only the second justice to lie in state in the Supreme Court's chambers—Chief Justice Earl Warren, who had written the opinion in Marshall's most celebrated case, Brown v. Board of Education, was the other. This honor capped the outpouring of praise for the Court's first black justice, a man who, in the words of one of his former law clerks, “would have had a place in American history before his appointment” to the Court.

Indeed, Marshall's tenure as chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP and first director of its Legal Defense and Educational Fund made him one of America s most influential and well known lawyers His thirty years of public service first as a federal appeals court judge then as America s first black solicitor general and finally as ...


Clarence Thomas was born in Pin Point, Georgia, and raised by his grandparents in Savannah, Georgia. He attended Roman Catholic schools, and in 1967 enrolled in Immaculate Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri, to study to become a priest. Subjected to overt racism at the school, however, he transferred to Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he became active in the Black Power Movement.

After graduating cum laude with an A.B. degree in English literature in 1971, Thomas entered Yale University Law School later that year. At Yale, Thomas developed the view that the Democratic Party had failed and was continuing to fail African Americans. By the time of his graduation in 1974, Thomas had become staunchly conservative and decided to work for John Danforth, Missouri's Republican attorney general, whom he followed to Washington, D.C., when Danforth became a U.S. senator.

Known within the Republican Party ...


Wesley Borucki

lawyer, federal agency director, U.S. Supreme Court justice. Clarence Thomas was born in the coastal village of Pin Point, Georgia. His father, M. C. Thomas, left the family, and his mother, Leola, went to work in nearby Savannah, leaving six-year-old Clarence and his younger brother, Myers, with her father, Myers Anderson. Anderson instilled strict discipline into his grandsons, waking them before dawn to help with his fuel and ice delivery business.

Anderson was a devout Catholic, and Clarence attended parochial schools established for African Americans, such as Saint Pius X High School. As a teenager, Thomas aspired to enter the priesthood, and at Savannah's Saint John's Minor Seminary, Father William Coleman exposed Thomas to the civil rights movement. Thomas's subsequent year (1967–1968) at Conception Seminary College in Missouri radicalized him. Overhearing a white student celebrating news of Martin Luther King Jr.'s ...