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Thurgood Marshall is one of the most well-known figures in the history of civil rights in America and the first Black Supreme Court Justice He served on the Court for 24 years until June 28 1991 when he announced his retirement due to advancing age and deteriorating health He passed away January 24 1993 Before serving on the Supreme Court Marshall served as legal director of the NAACP His tenure from 1940 to 1961 was a pivotal time for the organization as overturning racial segregation was one of its prime directives Marshall along with his mentor Charles Hamilton who was the first Black lawyer to win a case before the Supreme Court developed a long-term strategy for eradicating segregation in schools They first concentrated on graduate and professional schools believing that White judges would be more likely to sympathize with the ambitious young Blacks in those settings As the team won more and more cases they turned toward elementary and high schools This culminated in the landmark 1954 decision Brown v The Board of Education which declared segregation of public schools illegal By this time Marshall was an experienced Supreme Court advocate having already presented many cases before them including challenges against white-only primary elections and restrictive covenants He presented each of his cases in what would become his hallmark style strtaightforward and plain-spoken When asked for a defintion of equal by Justice Frankfurter Marshall replied Equal means getting the same thing at the same time and in the same place President John Kennedy appointed Marshall to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1961 It was not an easy confirmation a group of Southern senators held up his confirmation for months and he served initially under a special appointment made during a Congressional recess Still from 1961 to 1965 he managed to write 112 opinions on that court none of which were overturned on appeal In fact
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