Thurgood Marshall is best remembered as the first African American Supreme Court Justice. But to only remember him in that way is to do him an injustice. He had a remarkable and significant career before his appointment to the Supreme Court. He worked as a lawyer for the NAACP for several decades. During that time, he acquired the title of “Mr. Civil Rights” for his efforts combating laws and litigating court cases detrimental to African Americans. Why Marshall decided to take on this task and the impact he had on American society during the course of his career is important for every American to know and appreciate.
Dr. Spencer R. Crew is Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History at George Mason University. He has worked in public history institutions for more than twenty-five years, having served as president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for six years and worked at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution for twenty years. Dr. Crew is the author of several books, including Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration 1915–1940; Black Life in Secondary Cities: A Comparative Analysis of the Black Communities of Camden and Elizabeth, N.J., 1860–1920; and, most recently, Thurgood Marshall: A Life in American History.