Today, President Obama and Michelle Obama will honor the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that in some ways shaped their own lives and education: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
The First Lady, for whom the ruling banning segregation in public schools had a personal impact, will travel to Topeka, while the president will meet privately with the families and lead lawyers who worked on the case. One person whose absence will be keenly felt at the White House is former Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, who passed away in 1993.
For Marshall, then the NAACP Special Counsel, the Brown victory was the culmination of a long and personal legal campaign. But, as NBC archives footage from the Court’s decision day shows, Marshall always felt that more could be done to push the Civil Rights Movement forward – a message that he repeated throughout his life.
In the first minutes after the decision, Marshall and fellow lawyers George E.C. Hayes and James Nabrit spoke to the press on the steps of the Supreme Court, fielding skeptical questions about the American South’s acceptance of any Civil Rights progress.
Asked by NBC’s Herb Kaplow if he had any further “attempt toward advancement,” Marshall gave an evocative glimpse of the future of the movement, calling for a switch from litigation to organized protests to end segregation in buses, hospitals, and cities. Just over a decade following those remarks, and after many of those protests succeeded in changing segregation rules throughout the country, Marshall became the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court.
You can watch Marshall’s 1954 remarks below, courtesy of NBCUniversal Archives.
First published May 16 2014, 9:04 AM
Betsy Fischer Martin
Betsy Fischer Martin is the senior executive producer and managing editor of NBC News political programming. She is responsible for the development and execution of political coverage for NBC News and provides the editorial direction of coverage across all of the networkâ€™s shows and digital teams, as well as long-range major political coverage such as the upcoming mid-terms and the 2016 Presidential election.
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Before being promoted to her current position in July of 2013, Fischer Martin was at the helm of NBCâ€™s number one rated Sunday morning public affairs program and the longest running television program in the world, â€œMeet the Press,â€ since July 2002.