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Supreme Court justice and civil rights advocate

Supreme Justice: Speeches and Writings

by Thurgood Marshall (Author), J. Clay Smith Jr. (Author)

Supreme Justice: Speeches and Writings

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To understand fully the complexities of Thurgood Marshall’s work as a practicing lawyer, civil rights advocate for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, federal judge, and the first African American appointed Solicitor General of the United States and Justice of the United States Supreme Court, these texts are indispensable.

The early speeches assembled by J. Clay Smith, Jr., focus on the Detroit riots of the 1940s and 1950s, one of the most important periods of Marshall’s life, culminating in his arguments before the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education and Bolling v. Sharpe, which in 1954 struck down de jure segregation in public education. Throughout the materials from the next four decades, Marshall comes to life as a teacher, leader, and strategist, explaining, preaching, and cajoling audiences to stand up for their rights. The addresses collected by Smith present a less formal picture of Marshall, from which one can learn much about the depth of his skills and strategies to conquer racism, promote democracy, and create a world influenced by his vision for a just and moral society.

Supreme Justice reveals Marshall as a dogged opponent of unequal schools and a staunch proponent of the protection of black people from violence and the death penalty. Through his own words we see the genius of a man with an ability to inspire diverse crowds in clear language and see him also demonstrate his powers of persuasion in formal settings outside the court. His writings not only enhance our understanding of his groundbreaking advocacy in law and social conflicts, they reveal the names of men and women of all races who made significant contributions leading to Brown v. Board of Education and beyond.