America’s Greatest Lawyer — Ever — Died Twenty-NineYears Ago Today.

Thurgood Marshall Wants You To Get To Work

Photographs for “The Problem We All Live With,” Norman Rockwell (Look Magazine, 1964)

‘Brown v. Board of Education’ and the Hearts and Minds of America

Thus began one of the most moving and consequential stories in American history. The little girl was Linda Brown. The decision in her case is the most famous in a line of constitutional jurisprudence that reflected the civil rights protests happening in the streets of a hundred burning cities of the era. It was also imprinted on my childhood consciousness.

On the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, Nettie Hunt holds a newspaper and explains to her daughter, Nikie the meaning of the Court’s decision banning school segregation.
Six of the child plaintiffs in the landmark litigation. Linda Brown is third from the left.
Text from Brown v. Board of Education (Supreme Court Official Reports, 1954)

The Failed Promise of Brown

I was born ten years later into the promise of Brown v Board. The schools were integrated by law and my spirit was full of gratitude to Linda Brown and her courageous litigator. I soon learned, however, that neither case law nor legislation could change minds, let alone hearts.

Me. Five years old. New York City, 1969.
  • Guidance counselors sold me short.
  • Teachers didn’t believe in me.
  • Over time, it was destabilizing and difficult to believe in myself.

The Dream Deferred: Education as a Civil Right

I became a lawyer to continue unraveling the wrongs of segregation. Linda Brown became a teacher to do the same.

The Struggle Has to Continue

The advocate for Linda Brown became the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Thurgood Marshall served with distinction until 1991, and he died on this day in 1993. He spent his life dismantling Jim Crow and fighting for the rights of minorities. Marshall arguably did more than any other attorney, before or since, to change the face of American law.

Let’s get to work.

Thurgood Marshall and his NAACP LDF colleagues on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. May 17, 1854.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
jami floyd

Civil Rights Journalist. Decoder of Law. Social: @jamifloyd. Website: jamifloyd.com.