American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Reason

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A Pillar of Justice

Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)
Paul Conrad (b. 1924)
Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)
copyright Los Angeles Times
Ink on paper, 1993
Prints & Photographs Division

Long before President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed him the first African-American Supreme Court justice in 1967, Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) had established himself as the nation's leading legal civil rights advocate. After receiving his law degree from Howard University in 1933, he joined the legal staff of the NAACP about 1936, and between 1940 and 1961 served as head of the organization's Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which he created.

In 1954, Marshall achieved national recognition for his work on Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled public school segregation unconstitutional. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and four years later President Johnson named him solicitor general of the United States.

In 1967 he joined the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren. For twenty-five years, until his retirement in 1991, Marshall led the legal fight to end racial discrimination in America. The Library holds a significant collection of his personal papers, both in the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Collection, and the Thurgood Marshall Papers.

Editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad (b. 1924) created this poignant tribute to Marshall upon Marshall's death in 1993. Creator of drawings notable for their potent political message, strong graphic style, spare compositions, and conceptual clarity, Conrad began his professional career in 1950 as an editorial cartoonist at the Denver Post. In 1964 he went to work for the Los Angeles Times, where he served as chief editorial cartoonist until 1993. Conrad won Pulitzer Prizes in 1964, 1971, and 1984.

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