Thurgood Marshall

Denied acceptance to the University of Maryland Law School because of his race, Thurgood Marshall turned this experience with discrimination into one of the most illustrious legal careers of the 20th century—as a crusader of civil rights and the first African-American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Educated in Baltimore, Marshall studied law at historically black Howard University School of Law. He joined the legal staff at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NACCP) in 1936 and later founded the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He would become one of the most successful attorneys to appear before the Supreme Court, winning 29 of 32 cases he argued.

Among his most influential cases was the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which in 1954 struck down the legality of racial segregation in the public schools. In 1961, he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, later served as the first African-American U.S. Solicitor General—and, in 1967, joined the Supreme Court for a 24-year tenure.

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