2 October 1967

Thurgood Marshall is sworn in as the first African-American justice of the United States Supreme Court.

On this day in 2 October 1967, Chief Justice Earl Warren swore in Thurgood Marshall as the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice in the nation’s history. His father, William Marshall, who was a railroad porter, and his mother, Norma, a teacher, instilled in him an appreciation for the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.

Marshall, as chief counsel for the NAACP in the 1940s and ’50s, devised the legal strategy that did much to end officially sanctioned racial segregation in the United States.

After being rejected by the University of Maryland Law School, Marshall, the grandson of a slave, studied at the predominantly black Howard University Law School in Washington. At Howard, he came under the wing of Charles Houston, a prominent civil liberties lawyer, and, in 1933, graduated first in his class. In 1936, he joined the legal division of the NAACP, which Houston then directed.