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1969 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Thurgood Marshall*

Associate Justice
United States Supreme Court

"We must never forget that the only real source of power that we as judges can tap is the respect of the people."

The grandson of a slave, Thurgood Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1908. His father instilled in him an appreciation for the rule of law. Once, his father punished him for misbehaving in school by forcing him to read the Constitution. He later said this experience piqued his interest in the document. He graduated with honors from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1930. He applied to the University of Maryland Law School, but was denied entrance because he was black. This decision directed his future professional life in seeking fair treatment for all Americans. In 1933, he graduated at the head of his class from Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C. In 1934, while in private law practice, he became counsel for the Baltimore City branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He later joined the NAACP national legal staff, and in 1938 was appointed its chief legal officer. Among his most significant victories was the Supreme Court's 1954 school desegregation decision, Brown v. Board of Education. Judge Marshall became Solicitor General of the United States in 1956. In 1967, he became the first African-American Justice on the Supreme Court when he was nominated to that position by President Johnson. He served the Court until 1991 and was a strong advocate for equal protection under the law.

* Deceased