I noted that yesterday was the day Marshall's appointed to the Supreme Court in 1967 was confirmed. Here is a new book which delves into his early legal career,
The grandson of a mixed-race slave named Thorny Good Marshall, the man remembered as Mr. Civil Rights, made his mark on the annals of history with his victory in the landmark Supreme Courtcase Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954. But in fact, Thurgood Marshall’s struggle against inequality began much earlier, not in the burnished marble chamber of the highest court in the land, but instead in “stifling antebellum courthouses where white supremacy ruled.”
It was there, author Gilbert King writes, that the young attorney’s resolve was hardened and his powers of persuasion tested, not by nuanced arguments of constitutional precedent, but by the willful malice of entrenched racism.
King’s new book, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, centers around one of the most explosive and physically dangerous trials Marshall ever tried. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund had taken on what in 1950’s Florida was an unwinnable capital case: the alleged rape of a white woman by a black man. Norma Padgett was a young bride – just 17 and dressed in her Sunday best as if she were going to a high school dance – when she rose from the witness box and slowly, purposefully, condemned three innocent young black men to death with the point of her index finger.