Good Counsel: How Thurgood Marshall Inspired Me Thurgood Marshall made history as the first African-American to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Before becoming a judge, he was a lawyer who is perhaps best remembered for his part in ending legal racial segregation in schools, in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.

Good Counsel: How Thurgood Marshall Inspired Me

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As we continue to mark the contributions of African-Americans in our Black History Month series, we bring you another of our one-minute tributes. We've invited members of the TELL ME MORE staff, some of our guests and our NPR colleagues to share stories about the figure or event from black history that they most admire.

Today, a lawyer and a talker and a TELL ME MORE regular.

Mr. ARSALAN IFTIKHAR (Civil Rights Attorney): I'm Arsalan Iftikhar, a civil rights attorney and regular contributor to TELL ME MORE's Barbershop segment. The black history figure who has always been a hero of mine is Thurgood Marshall.

Although most Americans know that Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, many people do�not�know that he actually began his career as a volunteer lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund which helped pass the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown versus Board of Education in 1954.

To be sure, Marshall was a smart and confident attorney. Here he is just before the Brown decision was made.

(Soundbite of archived audio)

Mr. THURGOOD MARSHALL (U.S. Supreme Court Justice): I am as certain as I'm sitting here that governmentally-enforced segregation and governmentally-imposed discrimination because of race, creed or color so far as enforcement by government is concerned will be off the books.

Mr. IFTIKHAR: The Supreme Court ruled unanimously. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

As a civil rights lawyer myself, I am constantly reminded every day of the legacy of Brown versus Board of Education and other landmark Supreme Court cases which have helped to expand the civil rights of all Americans.

MARTIN: That was civil rights attorney Arsalan Iftikhar, one of our Barbershop regulars, saluting his black history hero, Thurgood Marshall.

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