19 Amazing Thurgood Marshall Facts that Will Leave You Wonder

Welcome, little fact explorers, to take a look at the life and contribution of a notable civil rights lawyer and jurist of America, Thurgood Marshall😲!

From being the first African-American justice👨‍⚖️ in the Supreme Court to being a vital figure in ending racial segregation in America’s public schools, this famous person has several fascinating facts to offer!

This article will provide some wonderful facts about Thurgood Marshall that will amaze you!

Let us start the fascinating fact-finding adventure!

Interesting Thurgood Marshall Facts

Thurgood Marshall: Explore his birth secrets

Birth Secrets of Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall took birth on July 2, 1908, in Baltimore, Maryland. 

His parents were Norma and William Canfield Marshall. 

Thurgood’s father held different jobs as a waiter in clubs, hotels, and on railroad cars. Thurgood’s mother was an elementary school teacher👩‍🏫. 

Though the family moved to New York City in search of better job opportunities, they still returned to Baltimore when Thurgood was just six years old. 

Thurgood wasn’t always Thurgood

Have you heard this interesting fact about Thurgood?

Originally known as Thoroughgood Marshall, he was not so happy with the name, and hence, young Thoroughgood🧒 changed his name to Thurgood!

He even admitted one, “By the time I reached the second grade, I got tired of spelling all that out and had shortened it to Thurgood.” 

Isn’t it interesting?

Marshall and his academic career

Thurgood Marshall's Academic Career

Thurgood attended the Colored High and Training School🏫 in Baltimore, and in 1925, he completed his graduation. 

After that, he enrolled at Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the oldest college for African Americans in the United States.

There, mischievous Thurgood was suspended for almost two weeks in the wake of a hazing incident.

However, he got good grades in his classes and led the debating team of his school to several victories! 

In 1930, he completed his graduation with honors with a bachelor’s degree in American literature and philosophy.

Later, he got admitted to Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Thurgood and his interest in law: He learned about law from his father

In Baltimore, as a child, Marshall developed an interest in the law because of his father William!

William, a country club steward was quite interested in following legal cases!

So, he took Thurgood to observe legal arguments at local courts!

Thurgood and his father then had largely discussions around the dinner table. 

During that time, Thurgood’s father fought every statement made by his son. 

In the year 1965, Justice Marshall said about his father, “He never told me to be a lawyer, but he turned me into one.”

Thurgood was mentored by Charles Hamilton Houston

Thurgood Was Mentored By Charles Hamilton Houston

At Howard University School of Law, Thurgood was mentored by Charles Hamilton Houston. 

Houston taught his students to be ‘social engineers’ who must be willing to utilize the law as a strong vehicle to fight for civil rights. 

In the year 1933, Thurgood graduated first in his class and later in the same year he passed the Maryland bar examination.

Thurgood in 1935: He and Houston brought suit against the University of Maryland

Though Marshall started practicing law in Baltimore, he was not so successful financially, partially because he spent a lot of time working for the benefits of the community.

He even volunteered with the NAACP’s Baltimore branch.

 In 1935, he and Houston brought suit on behalf of Donald Gaines Murray against the University of Maryland 🏛️. 

The reason was that Donald was an African American whose application to the law of the university had been rejected on account of his race.

In that case, Murray v. Pearson, Judge Eugene O’Dunne ordered that Murray will get admission.

Thurgood as NACCP’s special counsel

Thurgood As NACCP’s Special Counsel

In 1936, Marshall joined Houston as his assistant. 

At that time, Houston got appointed as the NAACP, also well-known as National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons’ special counsel in New York City.

They worked together on a significant case of Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada in 1938. 

It happened when Lloyd Lionel Gaines’s application was rejected by the University of Missouri’s law school because of his race. 

Gaines filed suit arguing that his equal-protection rights had been violated. 

After Missouri court rejected Gaines’s claim, Houston and Marshall, sought review in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Thurgood became the director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc.

I am really amazed to learn this interesting fact about Marshall!

Later in 1938, Marshall started working as special counsel the following year. 

He even became the director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. 

This organization had been established as a sperate organization that worked on tax purposes. 

Along with arguing matters before the Supreme Court and litigating cases, Marshall was also responsible for managing the Inc Fund, raising money, and conducting public-relations work.

Marshall litigated many cases involving unequal salaries for African Americans, and won nearly all of them. Really impressive, isn’t it?

Marshall’s parents had to struggle to pay his tuition fees

Thurgood Marshall’s Parents

During Marshall’s timer at Lincoln University, his family struggled a lot to afford the tuition. 

His mother, Norma, who was an elementary school teacher📚, pleaded each term with the register of the university of accept late payments. 

Also, she tried really hard to scrape together enough money to pay the cost of attendance.

Thurgood as young lawyer: He fought for African-American Teachers 

In 1933, after completing his graduation from Harvard University’s law school, Marshall tackled equal pay for African-American teachers. 

Six years later, Marshall won a big victory for those teachers like his mother. 

It happened when a federal court struck down pay discrimination against African-American teachers in Maryland. 

Later, in ten states across the South, Marshall went on to fight for teacher pay equality. 

Also, a lot of his famous legal battles were fought against this issue in public education, such as Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

Thurgood Marshall: He risked his life while fighting many civil rights battles

Thurgood Marshall Fought Many Civil Rights Battles

While working for the NAACP in 1946, Marshall went to Columbia, Tennessee. 

He went there to defend a group of African-American men. Marshall and his colleagues felt insecure after the trial and even tried to leave town first. 

However, according to Wil Haygood, a biographer, they were ambushed by locals on the road to Nashville.

Marshall was arrested on false charges, placed in a sheriff’s car, and driven 🚗really fast off the main road. 

His colleagues, followed the car, and returned to the main road. Thurgood said, that he would have been lynched if his colleagues didn’t arrive.

During some of the legal battles of Thurgood’s early career: He worked at a Baltimore health clinic

As a young lawyer, Thurgood fought to make ends meet. In 1934, he took a job at a clinic that treated sexually transmitted diseases. 

He worked there even as he prepared for the landmark case to integrate the University of Maryland. 

When he moved to New York in the year 1936, he did not quit his job officially, and only requested a 6-month leave of absence from the clinic, according to Larry S. Gibson, a biographer. 

However, Marshall never returned to his job and by 1940, he became the Director-General of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Marshall was appointed by President Kennedy to his judicial role

Marshall Was Appointed By President

Did you know this interesting fact about Thurgood Marshall? 

President John F. Kennedy sent Bobby, his brother, to meet with Marshall about civil rights in the year 1961. 

However, Marshall did not hit it off with the Kennedys and even felt that his knowledge and experience on the topic were being discounted.

Marshall said Bobby “spent all his time telling us what we should do.”

However, after a few months, Kennedy nominated Marshall to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

It took a year for the Senate to confirm his nomination over several southern Senators’ objection.

Thurgood Marshall: Know about his married life

Marshall married Vivian “Buster” Burey 👰‍♀️on September 4, 1929, while he was studying at Lincoln University. 

They remained married until Vivian died in 1955 from cancer. 

Eleven months later, Marshall married Cecilia “Cissy” Suyat, an MAACP secretary. 

They two had two children together, Thurgood Jr. and John.

Later, Thurgood became an attorney and even worked in the Clinton administration.

While John directed the U.S. Marshals Service and also worked as Virginia’s secretary of public safety.

Thurgood was both a subject and an informant of an FBI investigation during the Red Scare

Thurgood Marshall’s FBI Investigation

Have you heard this amazing secret about Marshall?

In the 1950s, Thurgood tripped off the FBI regarding communist attempts to infiltrate the NAACP. 

However, he was also the subject of an FBI investigation under J. Edgar Hoover’s direction! 

According to FBI files, critics tried to connect Thurgood to communism through his role in the National Lawyers Guild. 

It was a group that was called “the legal bulwark of the Communist Party” by the House Un-American Activities Committee. 

Later, after Marshall got the nomination to the Supreme Court, his opponents tried to tie him to communism, but the FBI couldn’t find anything against him.

Marshall had to undergo an intense Senate confirmation hearing

On October 1967, Marshall was sworn into the Supreme Court. 

However, before he took the oath of office, he had to go through a grueling wait because several senators from southern states tried to derail his nomination!

In July 1967, for four days, those senators questioned Marshall about his legal philosophy and even imposed a quiz about political history, reminiscent of a literacy test of the Jim-Crow era.

Marshall was subjected to several hours of questioning than any other Supreme Court nominee prior to him. 

Finally, on August 30, the Senate voted for him and sent him to the Supreme Court. 

Marshall in 1967: President Lyndon Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court

Thurgood Marshall In 1967

I am really amazed to explore this amazing fact about Marshall!

In 1967, President Johnson wanted to put Marshall on the Supreme Court. 

However, there wasn’t a vacancy. So, President tried to do a little political maneuvering! 

Johnson appointed Ramsey, Justice Tom Clark’s son, as the Attorney General, which made the elder Clark, who was sacred of a conflict of interest, retire on June 12, 1967. 

So, the next day, Johnson officially nominated Marshall as his replacement! Really interesting, right?

Marshall’s legacy is still debated

Marshall has a great record of supporting affirmative action and opposing capital punishment during his service in the Supreme Court! 

However, he grew frustrated with the Court and even announced his retirement in 1991. 

In 2010, President Obama nominated a former clerk of Marshall to the Supreme Court. 

During the confirmation hearing of Elena Kagan, senators questioned her connection to Marshall👨‍⚖️ and even criticized his record!

However, Kagan said about Marshall, “This was a man who created opportunities for so many people in this country and improved their lives. I would call him the greatest lawyer of the 20th century.”

Death of Marshall

Death Of Thurgood Marshall

After his retirement from the Supreme Court in 1991, Marshall served as a visiting judge on the Second Circuit for about a week in January 1992. 

In August of that year, he even received the highest award of the American Bar Association. 

Later, his health continued to deteriorate, and on January 25, 1993, he died⚰️ of heart failure at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center.

 At that time, he was 84 years old.     

Summing up

So little fact lovers, how are you feeling after knowing so many new facts about Thurgood Marshall?

We have tried to collect as much information about him as possible…and we are sure you are satisfied.

Looking forward to knowing your views😲!!

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