Oct 2, 1967 CE: Thurgood Marshall Becomes First Black Justice on U.S. Supreme Court

Oct 2, 1967 CE: Thurgood Marshall Becomes First Black Justice on U.S. Supreme Court

On October 2, 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first Black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.


6 - 12


Social Studies, U.S. History

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On October 2, 1967, Thurgood Marshall took the judicial oath of the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the first Black person to serve on the Court. Marshall's paternal grandfather had been enslaved, and systemic racism remained widespread when Marshall was born. A segregationist admissions policy kept him from attending law school at the University of Maryland, near where he grew up. He instead attended Howard University, and soon after graduating, he filed a lawsuit that fored the integration of the University of Maryland.

As a civil rights lawyer and later U.S. solicitor general, Marshall argued dozens of cases in front of the Supreme Court, winning a majority of them. His arguments in the 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education led the court to strike down the "separate but equal" doctrine, requiring public schools across the U.S. to desegregate.

In his 24-year tenure on the high court, Marshall promoted First Amendment rights, defended affirmative action programs, and vigorously opposed the death penalty.

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National Geographic Society
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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