Thurgood Marshall: Early Years

Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993)

Thurgood Marshall: The NAACP Years

Thurgood Marshall: On the Bench

Born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908, Thurgood Marshall was the younger of two sons of William Canfield Marshall and Norma A. Marshall. He received his formative education in the public school system of Baltimore, Maryland. After completing public school, Marshall enrolled in Lincoln University, a public, historically Black university in Oxford, Pennsylvania, where he attempted to study dentistry, but it failed to keep his interest. His academic interest soon changed to law, and he graduated with honors from Lincoln University in 1930.

Marshall’s first choice of law schools was the University of Maryland; but his application was denied by the state’s segregated system of higher education. Instead, he attended Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., where, under the tutelage of law school Dean Charles Hamilton Houston, he graduated in 1933 as class valedictorian.

On graduation, Marshall entered the private practice of law, starting his career as a labor and antitrust lawyer. His early years in Baltimore, Maryland, were arduous and discouraging due to the Depression making profitable cases few and far between. Marshall did not expect to become wealthy in private practice, but did expect to make a modest income. However, during the Depression, even a modest income was difficult to achieve.