One man, Thurgood Marshall, has impacted millions of children and adults across America. Thurgood Marshall was an American jurist, civil rights leader, and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (Encarta Marshall, Thurgood). He was involved in many famous cases, such as Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, in which this report will mostly be about. This famous case dealt with racial imbalances in schools in the United States and the lack of equality children in Southern schools faced at that time. This report will also cover Thurgood Marshall and the lawyer (Roy Wilkins) who assisted him in this case.
Thurgood Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908. He was educated at Lincoln University and at Howard University Law School. After graduating, Marshall first practiced law in Baltimore where he specialized in civil rights cases. He then moved to New York City, serving the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), where he was “special counsel (1938-50) and director and counsel of the NAACP legal defense and education fund (1938-61)”(Encarta Marshall, Thurgood). Shortly after these duties, Marshal was admitted to practice before U.S. Supreme Court, where he won 29 out of 32 cases. (Encarta Marshall, Thurgood). During his tenure as a lawyer before the Supreme Court, he was assigned a case known as Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka.
A lawyer named Roy Wilkins assisted Marshall. Wilkins was born in 1901 in St. Louis Missouri. He was educated at the University of Minnesota. From 1923 – 1931 he was a journalist in Kansas City, Missouri working on a newspaper for the black population, of which he became managing editor. In 1931, he was appointed assistant executive secretary of the NAACP, the largest civil right organization in the U.S. From 1934 – 1939 he was editor of the crisis, the official magazine of the NAACP, (Encarta Wilkins, Roy). Wilkins served as a consultant to the war department on black employment during World War II. After the war, he continued his service for the NAACP; he was executive secretary from 1955 – 1965 and executive director from 1965 until his retirement in 1977. All of these experiences helped him to assist Marshall in a positive way. In assistance to Thurgood Marshall, he played a major role in the preparation of Brown vs. The Board of Education in Topeka.
Racial segregation in the southern public schools dates back to the 1860’s. Before the American Civil War began in 1861, a number of northern states also allowed or even sometimes required schools to be segregated. In a case known as Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1877, a decision was made that stated segregation was legal as long as it held upheld the adage “separate but equal”. By 1900, the south was a completely segregated society. In 1909 a group of people formed the NAACP. This organization contained both blacks and whites, proving that African Americans are not the only people pushing for the civil rights for colored people. This sparked the beginning of a change for every person in the United States of America.
In a famous case known as Brown vs. The Board of Education was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously declared that it was unconstitutional to create separate schools for children on the basis of race. This was just the beginning of the “civil rights push”. The Brown ruling is ranked as one of the most important court decisions of the 20th century. It is very fitting that these people, who wanted to affect the future for African Americans would be the beginning of a positive change for all generations, and all races of children to come. These people believed that their children, grandchildren, and even their future generations to come deserved a better future and better education. Without a fair education and equal opportunities, these children would not be able to affect a change in the world. Things like voting, racial discrimination and equal opportunity are all rights that should belong to everyone. The generation at that time recognized this and fought to provide these constitutional rights for their people. At the time of the decision, seventeen states plus the District of Columbia required all public schools to be segregated by race. Also, some northern and western states left the issue of segregation up to individual school districts.
The information we have on Thurgood Marshall, Roy Wilkins, and the case Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka has proven to be a very vital to all generations. The court decision in this case affected American History greatly. Many children have received the chance for a better education. Also, this decision has played a large part in putting an end to some forms of racism. The case has also allowed many citizens equal opportunity in many areas of their life that would have never been possible had it not been for the courageous efforts of Thurgood Marshall and Roy Wilkins. Just think, many of the children in public schools today would not have the opportunity to be there if it were not for Mr. Thurgood Marshall and his pleas for equality.