Friday, December 21, 2007

Marshall's Law

" ... Though he couldn't afford it, Marshall still made time for the fight
against segregation. Representing the local NAACP, he negotiated with white
store owners who sold to blacks but would not hire them. He joined John L.
Lewis's effort to unionize black and white steelworkers. And he convinced a
college graduate who wanted to go to law school to apply to the University
of Maryland, which did not accept blacks into its law school program.
Marshall had considered applying to Maryland himself after he graduated from
college but decided it would be hopeless. Now he was taking the law school
to court.

Houston came to Baltimore and helped argue the case. During the proceedings,
Marshall told the court: "What is at stake here is more than the rights of
my client; it is the moral commitment stated in our country's creed." No one
expected Marshall and Houston to win; they were simply trying to set up a
case that could be appealed. "We were hoping to get to the Supreme Court any
way we could," Marshall says. "But Judge Eugene O'Dunne said no. He said we
won right there."

"The colored people in Baltimore were on fire when Thurgood did that"
recalls Juanita Jackson Mitchell, an NAACP activist in Baltimore. "They were
euphoric with victory . . . We didn't know about the Constitution. He
brought us the Constitution as a document like Moses brought his people the
Ten Commandments." ... "

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