Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary

Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary

4.3 9
by Juan Williams

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This New York Times Notable Book of the Year, 1998, is now in trade paper.

From the bestselling author of Eyes on the Prize, here is the definitive biography of the great lawyer and Supreme Court justice.

From the Trade Paperback edition.  See more details below


This New York Times Notable Book of the Year, 1998, is now in trade paper.

From the bestselling author of Eyes on the Prize, here is the definitive biography of the great lawyer and Supreme Court justice.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews
Thurgood Marshall is remembered by many as a rather stern, gruff Supreme Court justice, but he was also a courageous young lawyer who took on institutional segregation and racism, winning the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, and a witty, charismatic man-about-town who lived life with gusto and was often seen in the company of prizefighter Joe Louis, singer Cab Calloway, and other leading lights of the African-American community. Williams explores the nature of Marshall's involvements with such prominent civil-rights activists as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Robert F. Kennedy, and his secret dealings with FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover -- a relationship that is revealed here for the very first time.

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Right Time, Right Man?

Rumors flew that night. Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark had resigned a few hours earlier. By that Monday evening, Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall and his wife, Cissy, heard that the president was set to name Clark's replacement the very next morning. At the Marshalls' small green town house on G Street in Southwest Washington, D.C., the phone was ringing. Friends, family, and even politicians were calling to see if Thurgood had heard anything about his chances for the job. But all the Marshalls could say was that they had heard rumors.

As Marshall dressed for Clark's retirement party on that muggy Washington night of June 12, 1967, he looked at his reflection in the mirror. Years ago some of his militant critics had called him "half-white" for his straight hair, pointed nose, and light tan skin. Now, at fifty-eight, his face had grown heavy, with sagging jowls and dark bags under his eyes. His once black hair, even his mustache, was now mostly a steely gray. And he looked worried. He did have on a good dark blue suit, the uniform of a Washington power player. But the conservative suit looked old and out of place in an era of Afros and dashikis. And even the best suit might not be strong enough armor for the high-stakes political fight he was preparing for tonight. At this moment the six-foot-two-inch Marshall, who weighed well over two hundred pounds, felt powerless. He was fearful that he was about to lose his only chance to become a Supreme Court justice.

Staring in the mirror as if it were a crystal ball, Marshall could see clearly only that he would have one last chance to convince the president he was the right man. That chance would come tonight at Justice Clark's retirement party.
In his two years as solicitor general there had been constant rumors floating around the capital about Marshall being positioned by the president to become the first black man on the high court. However, with one exception, no one at the White House had ever spoken to him about the job. That exception was President Lyndon Johnson. Whenever Johnson talked about the Supreme Court in front of him, the tall, intense Texan made a point of turning to Marshall, thrusting a finger in his face, and reminding him there was no promise that he would ever have a job on the high court.

But Johnson was privately talking about putting Marshall on the Supreme Court. For a southern politician, Johnson had a strong sense of racial justice. As a skinny twenty-year-old, he had taught school to poor Hispanic children in south Texas and seen firsthand the disadvantages they faced. Now Johnson's fabled political instincts had drawn him to the idea that he would be hailed by history as the president who put the first black on the Supreme Court. The president had set the wheels in motion by making Marshall the nation's first black solicitor general. And he had confided to his wife, Lady Bird, that he wanted to appoint Marshall to the Supreme Court. But the president had been having second thoughts about Marshall. Was he really a good lawyer? And what about talk that Marshall was lazy? Was it realistic to think he could win enough votes to get by white racists in the Senate and be confirmed?

As he finished getting ready for the party, Marshall replayed all the rumors he had heard about why the president was reluctant to appoint him to the high court. Thinking about it, Marshall got grumpy, then angry. His chance to be in the history books as the first black man on the Supreme Court was fading, and he felt abandoned. The word around the capital was that the nomination would be announced tomorrow. Marshall had heard nothing from the White House.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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What People are saying about this

Bob Dole
Williams gives readers a dynamic work to savor and study.
Maya Angelou
A careful and engrossing account of Thurgood Marshall's true life.

Meet the Author

Juan Williams has been a political analyst and national correspondent for The Washington Post for twenty-one years. He has written for Fortune,The Atlantic Monthly, Ebony, GQ, and Newsweek, for which he is a regular columnist. Mr. Williams has earned widespread critical acclaim for a series of documentaries, including one that won him an Emmy Award. His numerous and frequent television appearances include Oprah, Nightline, Washington Week in Review, CNN's Crossfire (where he often served as co-host), and Capitol Gang Sunday. Currently a regular panelist on Fox News Sunday, he lives in Washington, D.C.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Thurgood Marshall : American Revolutionary 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thurgood Marshall is an inspiration for myself and others enduring the trials and tribulations of going to law school, but also to others, especially the black community. Marshall found a way to beat the system using the system, something many of us need to learn to do in order to better out community. This is a wonderful, inspiring novel on the life of our first black Supreme Court Justice and a recomendation for not only those in the legal field, but for every history buff, and avid reader.
MOM68 More than 1 year ago
Thurgood Marshall is one of my favorites of the Civil Rights Era and I am trying to locate the book where Eleanor Roosevelt was mentioned in regards to her favoritism toward Blacks and her Husband commented regarding her concern and help she assisted Thurgood when he was head of the Legal Department for the NAACP. Also the book I am trying to locate I read some 20 years or so ago. Thurgood also made assumptions in the furture regarding the Justice System toward young Black Males a good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Engelkilla More than 1 year ago
This book is a great tale of a true leader for the Civil rights movement. He used his skills at changing the law to change lives and the way people viewed race relations. It gives a very in depth description of the trials black Americans faced in the post civil war era. This is an example of a leader who never gave up and always sticked to his values. It is a great example of how to lead a group from his work in the NAACP. To lead but use all you human resources to come up with the best solution.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
For Afrikans in America, Thurgood Marshall contribute to the courts put into law that it would be aganist the law for white America'KKK' Europeans not to be Suprior to Afrikans in America, who was brought here aganist ther WILL. I am glad I read this book. I learned not only Justice Marshall who I have always idolized and miss quoted my assumption of Brown v. the Broad of Edu. Justice Marshall wanted equal through intergation and not separte but equal. I didn't like the fact that Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. that all 3 could'nt communicate. The authro Juan Williams did a great job in writing this book I would like to have this book in my library, there is a lot of history in this book from his research. GREAT READ
Guest More than 1 year ago
When one reflects on the 20th Century, 2 names stand out as leaders of the black community, Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. However Thurgood Marshall the first black Supreme Court Justice is just as poignant a leader for the black community if not more during the 20th Century. Malcom and Martin fought for equal rigts, democracy, and pride of the black race with their oratory style, marches, protests, and an eye for an eye for an eye attitude. Thurgood decided to use the judicial system as platform to resolve racial strive and equal the playing field for blacks in America. Brown vs Board of Education (1954) was not only his most important case won, it will go down as one of America's most important. With the passage of that law, that enabled blacks to not only receive a quality education; this integrated blacks with whites in school and trumped the former Plessy vs Ferguson (1896) seperate but equal doctrine. As I peer through a kaleidoscope I see an individual with several personalities. One, the very stern and terse individual who was an advocate for equal rights. Two, I see an individual who saw the positive and negative in both races, black and white. Lastly, I will remember Thurgood for his fun loving, jovial attitude outside work, as well as his dedication to education and justice inside the walls of the courts.