May 17: Thurgood Marshall, Lawyer and jurist, 1993
May 17, 2011 26 Comments
Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.
Thurgood Marshall was a distinguished American jurist and the ﬁrst African American to become an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Marshall was born in 1908. He attended Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Pushed toward other professions, Marshall was determined to be an attorney. He was denied admission to the University of Maryland Law School due to its segregationist admissions policy. He enrolled and graduated magna cum laude from the Law School of Howard University in Washington.
Marshall began the practice of law in Baltimore in 1933 and began representing the local chapter of the NAACP in 1934, eventually becoming the legal counsel for the national organization. He won his ﬁrst major civil rights decision in 1936, Murray v. Pearson, which forced the University of Maryland to open its doors to blacks.
At the age of 32, Marshall successfully argued his ﬁrst case before the United States Supreme Court and went on to win 29 of the 32 cases he argued before the court. As a lawyer, his crowning achievement was arguing successfully for the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, in 1954. The Supreme Court ruled that the “separate but equal” doctrine was unconstitutional and ordered the desegregation of public schools across the nation.
President Lyndon Johnson appointed Marshall as the 96th Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1967, a position he held for 24 years. Marshall compiled a long and impressive record of decisions on civil rights, not only for African Americans, but also for women, Native Americans, and the incarcerated; he was a strong advocate for individual freedoms and human rights. He adamantly believed that capital punishment was unconstitutional and should be abolished.
During his years in Washington, Marshall and his family were members of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, where he was affectionately known as “The Judge.” He is remembered as “a wise and godly man who knew his place and role in history and obeyed God’s call to follow justice wherever it led.”
I. Eternal and ever-gracious God, who didst bless thy servant Thurgood with exceptional grace and courage to discern and speak the truth: Grant that, following his example, we may know thee and recognize that we are all thy children, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, who teacheth us to love one another; and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
II. Eternal and ever-gracious God, you blessed your servant Thurgood with exceptional grace and courage to discern and speak the truth: Grant that, following his example, we may know you and recognize that we are all your children, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, who teaches us to love one another; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Amos 5:10-15, 21-24 or Amos 5:10-15a, 24
I Corinthians 13:1-13
Preface of Baptism
From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
* * *
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
To post a comment, your first and last name and email address are required. Your name will be published; your email address will not. The first time you post, a moderator will need to approve your submission; after that, your comments will appear instantly.