Dream Makers, Dream Breakers Essay - Critical Essays

Carl Thomas Rowan

Dream Makers, Dream Breakers

Thurgood Marshall, who was born to a primary school teacher and a club steward in Baltimore, Maryland in 1908, and who died in 1993, arguably had the most formidable credentials regarding civil rights activism of any American who has ever lived.

Marshall unquestionably felt that the best, most direct path to equality for American blacks started at the courthouse door. Beginning his career as a lawyer with the NAACP in 1933, in 1940 he became head of the newly formed NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, a position he held for more than twenty years. The high point of Marshall’s career as a litigator doubtless was BROWN v.BOARD of EDUCATION (1954), when Marshall and the NAACP took on the issue of school integration, challenging not only the “separate but equal” doctrine but also what was euphemistically called “the Southern way of life.”

It was Marshall’s fate that he would play a significant role inintegrating not only the educational system but also the American judicial system. In 1962 he became the second black person ever to serve as a federal appeals court judge. He sat on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for less than three years before President Johnson nominated him as solicitor general. Then, in 1967, he became the nation’s first black Supreme Court justice.

Carl Rowan, a popular columnist who knew Marshall for forty years, has written more of a memoir than a biography, but this approach permits readers to perceive Marshall largely through his own memorable words.

Sources for Further Study

ABA Journal. LXXIX, March, 1993, p.90.

America. CLXVIII, March 20, 1993, p.15.

Choice. XXX, June, 1993, p.1707.

The Christian Science Monitor. January 28, 1993, p.14.

Human Rights. XX, Spring, 1993, p.8.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. March 7, 1993, p.4.

National Review. XLV, March 1, 1993, p.56.

The New York Times Book Review. XC VIII, February 7, 1993, p.14.

The Washington Post Book World. XXIII, January 24, 1993, p.1.