Born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908, Thurgood Marshall was the grandson of a slave. His father, William Marshall, instilled in him from youth an appreciation for the United States Constitution and the rule of law. After completing high school in 1925, Thurgood followed his brother, William Aubrey Marshall, at the historically black Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
His classmates at Lincoln included a distinguished group of future Black leaders such as the poet and author Langston Hughes, the future President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, and musician Cab Calloway. Just before graduation, he married his first wife, Vivian “Buster” Burey. Their twenty-five year marriage ended with her death from cancer in 1955.Â Continue reading
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
On October 13, 1898, Edith Sampson was born in Pittsburgh, the first black woman elected judge to a municipal court.Â She was born Edith Spurlock, one of seven children.
Her father, Louis Spurlock, earned $75 per month as a shipping clerk in a cleaning, pressing, and dyeing business. Her mother, Elizabeth Spurlock, worked at home making buckram hat frames and twisting switches of false hair.
Edith graduated from Peabody High School, and three years later married Rufus Sampson, a field agent for the Tuskegee Institute.Â She also attended the New York School of Social Work. There, one of her instructors was George W. Kirchwey, also a professor at Columbia University Law School. After distinguishing herself in his criminology class, he told her she had the talent to be a lawyer.Â Continue reading
Born on January 13, 1850, in New York City. In 1872, Charlotte E. Ray became the first female African-American lawyer in the United States. She grew up in a large family as one of seven children. Her father, Charles, was a minister and an activist in the abolitionist movement.Ray attended the Institution for the Education of Colored Youth in Washington, D.C., during the early 1860s. The institution was one of only a handful of places that offered a quality education to young, African-American women. By the end of the 1860s, she had become a teacher at the preparatory school associated with Howard University. Ray then applied to the university’s law degree program using only her initials, C. E., to disguise her gender. The trick worked, and Ray gained admittance to the program. She excelled at her studies at the university, especially in corporate law.Â Continue reading