Justice Thurgood Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1908. He grew up in a time of racism and discrimination, yet his parents groomed him to become a lawyer. It was not going to be an easy path, but Thurgood’s parents knew it was a necessary path. As it turns out, Marshall would become an excellent attorney and his work reshaped the legal landscape for decades to come.
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Parents play a key role
When discussing ways to restore black wealth in the US, the role of the parents often comes into play. For Marshall’s parents to steer him towards law school, that meant they needed to devote a significant amount of time to his growth and studies. Segregation still reigned in America at the time and black lawyers met many challenges.
Marshall graduated from high school with top honors and applied to attend the University of Maryland law school. The University of Maryland declined his application due to the fact that he was black. However, this is a lesson that you need to try no matter the odds of success. Marshall knew the chances of him attending the University of Maryland were slim, yet he applied anyways. Too often we do not attempt to chase happiness because we believe the chances of success are slim.
Let the customer decide
There is a saying in sales that you have to let the customer decide. What this means is you cannot play out the results in your mind and determine success isn’t possible. You should instead allow the customer to determine what the outcome is going to be. Some people you thought would say no will say yes and others you thought would say yes will say no. Marshall probably knew Maryland was going to say no, but he didn’t allow that to stop him from applying.
Unwavering commitment of Thurgood Marshall
Once declined by the University of Maryland, Marshall didn’t’ stop there. You must have an unwavering commitment to make your dream a reality. Marshall decided to attend Howard University and pursue his law degree there. Even though the drive was over an hour away from his home, he was committed to attaining his law degree.
It was there that he met his mentor, Charles Hamilton. Charles was an attorney for the NAACP Houston and his influence shaped Thurgood significantly. It was Hamilton who suggested to Howard to find the most segregated parts of the South and listen to the complaints of his community. He then told him to hold onto that message and use it to fuel his work. Charles felt it was vital for Marshall to understand that they are not fighting for themselves, but for the people who have no support.
In 1934, Marshall graduated Magna Cumulate and started his own practice. He would eventually take over his mentor’s role as chief counsel for the NAACP. Of the 32 civil right cases Marshall argued before the Supreme Court, Marshall won 29 of them. Some of his most notable accomplishments were his work on the 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. the Board of Education.
Are you willing to die for what you believe in?
Thurgood tells this story of him almost being lynched by the KKK in New Orleans. He was tipped off by a friend and Marshall called another friend with the FBI. The FBI picked up Marshall and took him to a safe house for the remainder of his stay. Marshall did not give in to the death threats and continued to represent the people who didn’t have a voice. When asked about the KKK, Marshall said,
“The Ku Klux Klan never dies. They just stop wearing sheets because sheets cost too much.”Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood knew people were counting on him and he could not give in to the fear of death. When you are chasing happiness, you understand the work you are doing is too important to stop. People are counting on you and will be in a better place as a result of your work. While most of us will not face literal death threats, we may face animosity in other ways. People will question your resolve and others will attempt to sabotage your success. You must know you are working for something more than your own personal interests. When you have the epiphany, you are then equipped to handle anything life has to throw at you.
The certainties of life
“A man can make what he wants of himself if he truly believes that he must be ready for hard work and many heartbreaks.”Thurgood Marshall
This sounds like a man who has been through a lot and prevailed. And that is exactly the case with Thurgood Marshall. He grew up in a world that did not believe a black could be on the Supreme Court. There were people who did not believe one person could change the world. Yet, there was Thurgood Marshall. He was a man who spent decades fighting laws of oppression and giving a voice to his people. Even though his life was endangered in his younger years, Marshall earned the honor becoming a justice for the Supreme Court. Having reached the pinnacle of success within his profession, Marshall served the court from 1967 to 1991.
Thurgood Marshall dedicated his life to serving the needs of his community by reshaping the laws of America. His strength was understanding the difference between difficult and impossible. Most things worth doing in life are difficult, few things in life are impossible. Marshall felt if you saw indifference and inequality in America, it is your job to speak out. You have to do more than complain and talk about how bad things are; you have to take the necessary action to bring change. Never give up and continue chasing happiness by rising to the challenge.
More articles you may enjoy:
- Chasing Happiness by Rising to the Challenge
- How Chasing Happiness Will Help You Catch Greatness
- Taking Risks Is An Essential Part Chasing Happiness
- Four Steps to Create Happiness in Times of Adversity
Until next time,
Dre “Better Self ,Better Wealth” Griggs
Thurgood Marshall: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/thurgood-marshall Thurgood Marshal Quotes: http://thurgoodmarshall.com/quotes-by-thurgood-marshall/