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Thurgood Marshall Memorial on the State House Grounds

Career Chronology | Text Around the Circle

Thurgood Marshall memorial by Antonio Tobias Mendez. Lawyers' Mall/State House Square.: Lawyer's Mall/State House Square. Unveiled in 1996, this memorial honors the great civil rights leader who became the first African-American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The memorial is erected on the site of the old Court of Appeals building where Marshall argued some of his early civil rights cases.

Thurgood Marshall was one of this century's foremost leaders in the struggle for equal rights under the law. A native of Baltimore, Marshall graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He earned his law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he first met the great civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. After earning his law degree, Marshall returned to Baltimore and began his long association with the NAACP. In 1967, Marshall became the first African American to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Following Marshall's death in 1993, the state of Maryland decided to honor the great civil rights leader and jurist with a memorial at the State House in Annapolis. On May 17, 1994, exactly 40 years after the Supreme Court's Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka decision, the governor of Maryland signed an Executive Order establishing the Thurgood Marshall Memorial Statue Commission. After a nationwide competition, the Commission awarded the design of the memorial to Maryland artist Toby Mendez.

In 2005, BWI Airport was renamed Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, as part of House Bill 189 signed into law by Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. In June 2006, the Thurgood Marshall Tribute, an exhibit about the life of Thurgood Marshall, was opened to the public in Terminal C of the airport. The tribute features a bust of Marshall by Toby Mendez, adapted from the original full-length statue in the Thurgood Marshall Memorial in Annapolis.

Chronology of Thurgood Marshall's Career
  • 1925: Graduated from Frederick Douglass Senior High School, Baltimore, MD
  • 1930: Graduated with honors from Lincoln University, PA
  • 1933: Graduated from Howard University School of Law, Washington, DC
  • 1933-38: Initiated civil rights work in Maryland against lynching and for equal pay for teachers
  • 1934: Begins work for the Baltimore Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • 1936: Won Board of Regents of the University of Maryland v. Donald Murray
  • 1940: Appointed Director-Counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • 1954: Brown et. al. v. Board of Education of Topeka et. al.
  • 1961-65: Served as Judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals appointed by President John F. Kennedy
  • 1965-67: Served as United States Solicitor General appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson
  • 1967-91: Served as first African American Justice of the United States Supreme Court appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson
Text Around the Circle

Thurgood Marshall's first major victory in his life-long struggle for equality under the law for all Americans took place in the Maryland Court of Appeals which then stood near this memorial. In 1935, Marshall successfully argued for the admission of Donald Murray to the University of Maryland School of Law. This was the first step on the road to Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka in which the United States Supreme Court in 1954 overturned the doctrine of "separate but equal" established by Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Throughout his life, Thurgood Marshall fought to fulfill the promise held within the quote above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. "Equal Justice Under Law."

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Fact Sheet

Oversight Committee:The Governor's Commission on the Thurgood Marshall Memorial

Artist: Antonio Tobias Mendez

Landscaping: James R. Urban, Urban & Associates

Engineering: Charles Emory, Jr., Structural Engineer

Contractor: Pagliaro Brothers, Inc.

Dedication: October 22, 1996

Maryland state agencies:
• Division of Historical and Cultural Programs of the Department of Housing and Community Development
• The Maryland State Archives
• The Department of General Services