Dozens of books about Thurgood Marshall have been written, but Larry Gibson, LLB, professor at the UM Carey School of Law, thought people should know more about the forces that helped create the country's first African-American Supreme Court justice.
Years of research, including poring over original documents and interviews with those who knew the Baltimore native, led to Gibson's book "Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice," released Dec. 4.
"The earlier books are principally about what Thurgood Marshall did," says Gibson. "This book is about what he was like and the forces that shaped him."
"Young Thurgood" has earned kudos from Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch, civil rights leader Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, and even Marshallýs immediate family.
Harvard Law Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. calls the biography "a page turner" whose "compelling story is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand a great man and the history of the civil rights movement."
As he put the manuscript together, Gibson found himself writing about a character besides Marshall. "The secondary character is the State of Maryland," he says. The state's geography (between the deep South and the urban North), the economy, the politics and sociology of the segregated Maryland that existed between the dawn of the 20th Century and through the Great Depression all influenced the young man from West Baltimore.
Gibson got a head start on his research when he put together the displays about Marshall that stand in the UM Carey School's Thurgood Marshall Law Library. He got to know the late Justice's widow and son, and gained access to photos, documents and personal insights that allowed Gibson to cast a new light on this historical figure.
Among the popular inaccuracies about Marshall is that he was rejected from the University of Maryland law school because of his race. Gibson writes that Marshall, knowing full well the entrenched segregation of the School and at many other Maryland institutions, did not submit an application. A small point perhaps, but an important part of a story that includes the work he did to integrate the School several years later in the Murray v. Pearson trial.
Professor Gibson will celebrate the book's publication on Thursday, Dec. 13, at Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Library, where he'll be joined by UM Carey Law Dean Phoebe Haddon, Thurgood Marshall, Jr., Governor Martin O'Malley '88, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings '76, and Ron Shapiro, the sports lawyer and author and one of Gibson's closest friends.