Before the Honorable Thurgood Marshall was the first Black Supreme Court Justice of the United States, he was a double-HBCU educated Alpha Phi Alpha Man who was known as much for his big personality and penchant for bourbon and daytime soaps as he was for his legal prowess. A graduate of Lincoln University and Howard University School of Law, Justice Marshall is best known for his successful arguing against school segregation in 1954's landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case. But in his work as an NAACP lawyer -- where he founded and served as inaugural executive director of the NAACP's Legal Defense and Education Fund -- Justice Marshall argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He won 29 of them.
His mother Norma was a school teacher, and one of his first legal cases was around equal pay for Black women teachers in Maryland. The court ruled in his favor, and Justice Marshall took the fight to 10 other states across the South. He sued the University of Maryland Law School to force the admission of Donald Gaines Murray, a Black graduate of Amherst University. Dubbed "Mr. Civil Rights," he's best known for his work in education and voting rights, but Justice Marshall also was at the forefront of the fights against police brutality, women's rights, and the death penalty. He was appointed the U.S. Solicitor General by President Lyndon B. Johnson -- the first Black person to hold the position, and the highest-ranking African-American in government at the time -- en route to the Supreme Court. Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases he argued for the government as Solicitor General.
Young Students (K3-2nd Grade)
The Honorable Thurgood Marshall once said, "This is a great country, but fortunately for you, it is not perfect. There is much to be done to bring about complete equality." What role can you play in helping to create a more equal country for everyone who lives in it?
Middle Students (Grades 3-8)
The Honorable Thurgood Marshall once said, "Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on." Do you feel like this country belongs to you? In what ways can you make and protect and pass on our democracy?
High School Students (Grades 9-12)
Thurgood Marshall was a champion of the First Amendment, and especially the right and need to embrace protest as a means to move democracy forward. He believed strongly that people should do what they believe is right, and let the law catch up. Why do you think he called protest against injustice "the foundation of all American democracy"? Based on what you know about the principles of democracy, do you agree or disagree?
Hon. Thurgood once said that we owe ourselves and everyone around us an examination of our true intent. What is your true intent as it relates to the students in your care? What ways can you make sure that intent is felt by them?
About the Series
A Black Child Can was founded to create a better world for students by empowering the adults around them with the knowledge they need to advocate on their behalf. The 2022 blog series builds on this foundation, encouraging educators to participate in the discussion and reflect on the ways they're showing up for their students.