"Why, of all the multitudinous groups of people in this country, do you have to single out Negroes and give them separate treatment?" Thurgood Marshall reproached the Supreme Court with this and other questions in the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. In this 1954 case attacking U.S. school segregation policy, Marshall and a team of lawyers and sociologists proved that "separate" education facilities for black and white children could never be "equal."
This was the most famous of the many civil rights cases argued by Thurgood Marshall before the Supreme Court. Born and raised in Baltimore, Marshall lived in this house as a young boy. Denied admission to the University of Maryland Law School because of his race, he commuted to Howard University instead, graduating in 1933. Two years later, he took U.M.L.S. to court on behalf of Donald Murray. He won the case, forcing the school to admit Murray, its first black student since the 1890's.
Marshall joined the legal staff of the NAACP in 1936. He stayed there 25 years, until President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the U.S. Circuity Court of Appeals in 1961. Four years later, President Lyndon B. Johns named him Solicitor-General, responsible for deciding which cases the Supreme Court will hear. In 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first black to sit on the Supreme Court.