Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America

Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America

Wil Haygood

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 0307947378

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Over the course of his forty-year career, Thurgood Marshall brought down the separate-but-equal doctrine, integrated schools, and not only fought for human rights and human dignity but also made them impossible to deny in the courts and in the streets. In this galvanizing biography, award-winning author Wil Haygood uses the framework of the dramatic, contentious five-day Senate hearing to confirm Marshall as the first African-American Supreme Court justice, to weave a provocative and moving look at Marshall’s life as well as at the politicians, lawyers, activists, and others who shaped—or desperately tried to stop—the civil rights movement. An authoritative account of one of the most transformative justices of the twentieth century, Showdown makes clear that it is impossible to overestimate Thurgood Marshall’s lasting influence on the racial politics of our nation.

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it was first rejected by the House of Representatives, which did not have a two-thirds Republican majority, and finally proposed only because of a switch of votes of a group of Union Democrats? “Union Democrats” was a phrase not heard in official Washington in a mighty long time. Perhaps not since the Civil War. Marshall allowed that he could not verify Thurmond’s facts, and so he had no opinion. THURMOND: Do you believe that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was constitutional before the

moment’s warning, simply and solely because he was your friend and the friend of our country. Had he been unfaithful to you and to the great cause of freedom he might have lived. The pistol from which he met his death, though held by Booth, was fired by the hands of treason and slavery.” Stanton mentioned reward money, then seemed to realize it likely held no additional power of persuasion in service of the man who had freed the Negro: “But I feel that you need no such stimulus as this. You will

and Vassar graduate. She was also a white woman. The uproar—Walter White, head of the NAACP, marrying a white woman—was swift. He received stinging letters, from blacks as well as whites. His two sisters, Madeline and Helen, excoriated him, telling him he had let the Negro race down. Emergency NAACP meetings were called to handle the fallout. White and his bride fled America, taking their honeymoon in Europe. There were threats that White would be fired by the NAACP. Thurgood Marshall supported

questioning—all but quietly snickered. There had been myriad cases throughout his career in which judges had accepted confessions from accused men who had been beaten—or had later whispered to Marshall personally of their beatings. MARSHALL: I would not comment on that, sir. Ervin went on to express grave frustration with Marshall, adding that the answers he demanded of Marshall were “relevant to this inquiry.” MARSHALL: All I am trying to say, Senator, is I do not think you want me to be in

hiding, but Moore found them. He obtained sworn affidavits regarding Payne’s argument with his employer and the fact that the employer had pulled a gun on Payne—before any charge of rape had been lodged. Newspapers in St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Jacksonville argued for the firing of the sheriff. The governor refused to do so. A specially formed grand jury brought no indictments in the lynching. Harry Moore got in touch with both Roy Wilkins and Thurgood Marshall. Marshall asked for and received a

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