University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Title "Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary"
Date 1998
Author Juan Williams
External Link
Abstract From the promotional website:
Thurgood Marshall was America's leading radical. He led a civil rights revolution in the 20th century that forever changed the landscape of American society. But he is the least well known of the three leading black figures of this century. Martin Luther King Jr., with his preachings of love and non-violent resistance, and Malcolm X, the fiery street preacher who advocated a bloody overthrow of the system, are both more closely associate in the popular mind and myth with the civil rights struggle. But it was Thurgood Marshall, working through the courts to eradicate the legacy of slavery and destroying the racist segregation system of Jim Crow, who had an even more profound and lasting effect on race relations than either of King or X.

Marshall's lifework literally defined the movement of race relations through the century. He rejected King's peaceful protest as rhetorical fluff that accomplished no permanent change in society. And he rejected Malcolm X's talk of violent revolution and a separate black nation as racist craziness in a multi-racial society.

The key to Marshall's work was his conviction that integration -- and only integration -- would allow equal rights under the law to take hold. Once individual rights were accepted, in Marshall's mind, then blacks and whites could rise or fall based on their own ability. Marshall's deep faith in the power of racial integration came out of a middle class black perspective in turn of the century Baltimore. He was the child of an activist black community that had established its own schools and fought for equal rights from the time of the Civil War. His own family, of an interracial background, had been at the forefront of demands by Baltimore blacks for equal treatment. Out of that unique family and city was born Thurgood Marshall, the architect of American race relations in the twentieth century.

After Marshall died in 1993 there was still no authoritative, thorough account of his life and the impact his work had on the nation. A new biography - Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary - is intended to fill some of that vacuum. In these pages the great storyteller tells his stories. And the history, of both his family and the civil rights movement, are in one place so that future generations can understand the dynamics that created and sustained Marshall's conception of successful race relations. Given that Marshall laid the foundation for today's racial landscape, his grand design of how race relations best work makes his life's story essential for anyone delving into the powder-keg of America's greatest problem. He was truly an American Revolutionary.
Citation (New York: New York Times, 1998)

This Resource Relates To
person Marshall, Thurgood (DC)

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