ThurgoodMarshall: Justice for All
Thebook is a biography of Thurgood Marshall, the first Justice of theSupreme Court from the African American minority group. The authorwrites about Thurgood, one of the most active civil rights activists,who later pursued justice to become one of the best jurists in thecountry. As a tribute to his great life and work, the author presentsa man who worked to ensure equal rights and justice prevailed hencethe title of the book “Justice for All.” The main message thatthe author wants to create for the reader is the difference that aperson can make in the society by dedicating his life to fight forjustice, justice for all.
Thestory is largely focused on the historical era of the struggle forequal rights of the minority African Americans. It is the period thatsaw some minority take public offices in the mid and late 20thcentury. The long road of Justice Thurgood started in his early lifewhen blacks were highly discriminated against, and could not enjoyany of the basic rights and freedoms of an American citizen. As hiscareer grew in the era of civil rights movements, Thurgood takes onto fight for equal rights as a civil rights lawyer. With the resultsof the civil rights movements and his service at the court of appeal,he was appointed by the Supreme Court by President Johnson.
Thestory of Thurgood is largely told from the perspective of a writerand slightly from a politician’s viewpoint. The author presents abiography of Thurgood through a description of his life and the mostsignificant experiences of his life. As a writer, Robert Goldmanpresents the life of Thurgood as a statesman, as a family man, acivil rights fighter and most importantly, as a justice of theSupreme Court. The perspective of a writer can only be presented byhaving an objective description of the subject, which Goldmansuccessfullyachieves.
However,the story reflects a political perspective where the writer focusesmore on the political significance of the life of Thurgood. Goldmandescribesa political Thurgood in the time when he was fighting for the legalrights of people as a civil rights lawyer. For instance, thedescription of the case McLaurinv. Oklahoma State Regents thathewon in 1951, where he fought for the rights of blacks in schools,especially when using social and academic facilities like libraries(Goldman41).He convinced the court that discrimination based on their color was aracism patchedonto the students.
MostInteresting Parts of the Book
Oneof the most interesting parts of the book is his win in the casedescribed above, the McLaurinv. Oklahoma State Regentscase. It is interesting to imagine how he won the case when racismdominated most of the American society. Another interesting part iswhen he married another wife, Buster, despite his strong love for thewife. He had not left her despite having several miscarriages, but inthe same year that his former wife died, 1955, he went on to marryCeceliaSuyat(Goldman54).Itis even more interesting to note that Cecelia was a colleague, asecretary, he worked with at the National Association for theAdvancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Thirdly,it is interesting that Thurgood married his second wife from adifferent race, not a black as people would expect. He marriedCecelia, a lady of Filipino descent, showing that he actuallypracticed what he preached. The fourth interesting part of the bookis definitely the time he was appointed by the president as a justicein the supreme court of the United States. He was presented an iconin the justice department and getting such praise for his work andservice from the president is interesting. Finally, the mostinteresting part is when he was confirmed as the Supreme CourtJustice after approval of the senate which was lengthy.
Despitehaving a great biography of a great man who was committed to serveall human beings, despite their race, one of the boring parts is hispersonal life. First, it is boring to read how he had entered intothe world of alcoholism in New York, a life that introduced him towomen. He did this without regard to what the behavior could do tohis reputation as a civil rights lawyer, and a husband. In the sameway, it is boring to read how he parted ways with his wife in 1955.He parted ways with his wife, and started seeing a clerk at the NAAP.
Fourthly,it is boring to imagine what made him to marry again, just fourmonths after his wife died. It would be expected that he would taketime to reflect on his life, since he was depressed by the death ofhis wife. Finally, it is boring to read how the senate had taken timeto approve his appointment to the Supreme Court as a Justice. It wasexpected that many would applaud his appointment, but not all were.In particular, the SouthernDemocratic Senators claimed that he was reflecting judicial activism.This is boring because it shows the extent to which the whites wouldgo to block a hardworking black, who qualified on pure merit.
Afterreading and studying the biography, I would like to read more aboutthe individual in the book, President LyndonB. Johnson. Iwould like to learn more about the political viewpoints andinclination in regard to race, which the president held. Inparticular, I would like to study other major decisions of PresidentJohnson,in regard to appointments to the Supreme Court and other majoroffices in America during his time.
Thiswill shed light as to why the opposition was objecting hisappointment of Thurgood as a Supreme Court justice. I would like toknow what inspired president Johnson to appoint Thurgood to the courtof appeal and later to the Supreme Court. I would like to knowwhether the president was motivated to create social equality byhaving a black person in the office or was it pure merit.
Theother event that I would like to read more is the caseproceedings in the Brownv. Board of Educationcase. I would like to read the arguments of Thurgood as the lawyer inthe case and ascertain or learn from his skills. In addition, I wouldlike to explore detailed circumstances of the case and why Thurgoodwas so passionate to win the case. This way, I would not only learnfrom the great Thurgood but also from the difference that Thurgoodmade in his life.
Theauthor could improve the biography by presenting more of the ideologyof Thurgood than his life. He can do this by including more quotesthat reflect the ideologies of the Thurgood. While the currentversion of the book contains several quotes, most of them reflect hislife by describing his experience and not a presentation of hisideology. In addition, the author can increase the tone of the eventswhen describing Thurgood’s quotes especially in court cases.
Theauthor has left out information about the experiences of Thurgood atthe court of appeal and the Supreme Court in the midst of a dividedcountry. Particularly, it would be interesting to include the reasonswhy the opposition senators led by JamesEastlandof Mississippi on the appointment of Thurgood as the SolicitorGeneral. The same opposition was followed when he was appointed as ajustice in the Supreme Court. Itwould be interesting to include the political intrigues behind thisopposition, which would reflect the racial rift in America at thetime of service of Justice Thurgood.
Throughthe book, Goldman presents a well done biography of Thurgood bydescribing his life and his pursuit of justice for all. Goldmandescribeshis life as a young lawyer who was dedicated to promoting justice,and fought for the rights of the colored people in the context of aracially segregated America. His career shone with the appointment asthe first black American Justice of the Supreme Court, which marksthe main focus of the book. Generally, the author tries to presentthe differences that a person can make in the society through acommitment to justice. This way, a reader is inspired to make adifference in the society by being committed to his or her service tothe country.
Goldman,Roger. ThurgoodMarshall:Justicefor All.New York: Carroll & Graf, 1992, Print