tv Book Discussion on Thurgood Marshall CSPAN August 7, 2015 6:00pm-6:19pm EDT
are due. it could have fixed itself if there had been some sort of server management going forward, just like any organization, united states as well. if you have strong leadership and focused if you have strong leadership and focused at -- focused leadership, you can fix the problems. >> sunday night on c-span's duende. >> over the next hour, the c-span city store visits fort lauderdale. we will hear from authors of nolks about the semi indians, the florida intracoastal waterwaye, and spain's role in the revolutionary war. but first, we start with charles , author of then struggle for a more perfect union. understandu cannot
thurgood marshall if you do not understand that he is not just a black man, but also a lawyer. of law shapes his perception the world as much as the color of us. her good used to say, i do not need to put my hand in front of my face to know what color i am. he knew he was black. he had grown up in a jim crow south. he has seen and traveled right , the law school destruction of the community segregation brought about. but at the same time, he had the lawyer's lens by which he understood the situations and he gave them away to fight back. he further believed in the law. he believed in the constitution. he believed the american legal political can't do shall system was fundamentally -- the political constitutional system was fundamentally sound, but
that it had a cancer on it. and that cancer was segregation. and that his job like a surgeon was to cut out the cancer and leave that cancer and what was left to be healthy. that is what drove him. thurgood as a young man had the "goody." he was a happy-go-lucky jokester. he was the class cap -- the class clown. he was a good student, but he was the class clown. he had memorized the constitution because he had been sent to the basement to write out the whole thing as punishment. he had memorized the whole thing. even though he grew up in a very happy middle-class family in one of the least dangerous places for a black man, which would be the upper south, which would be maryland.
, though hecollege wasn't distributed -- he wasn't this driven crusader. segregation.e he was a very it. he didn't know what to do about it will some in college, one of his best friends was langston huge -- langston hughes. theston use i traveled world and have very strong feelings on segregation -- langston hughes had traveled the world and has very some phillies on segregation and they worked on it. he finally decided to get serious about his work and dealing with these problems. the last event that really got him is that he was traveling with some friends from baltimore back to pennsylvania. , so theyroke down stopped in a maryland town. up and says, boys, what are you doing here? and they said, we are just
getting her car fixed. he said, good, get it fixed. i don't want you here by sundown stop if you are here by sundown, you won't be leaving. thurgood had wandered off and as they are leaving, he is wanting to catch up and he jumps onto the car and doesn't quite make it fully and ends up injuring himself in a very private place. up having to take a semester off to recover from this injury. that aspect, that threat, "leave by sundown or else," that affected his young life. and then in law school he found a way to channel that anger, that frustration. when he graduated from law --ool in pennsylvania, he there were not a lot of options. he could become a preacher. he could become a teacher. he could become a businessman. he hated business.
preachers make no money. and while teaching was in his family line -- both his mother and grandmother's were teachers -- it also didn't pay very well. he decided to become a lawyer. he wanted to go to the university of maryland law school, which is in baltimore, which is just a short trot away from his home. what they wouldn't accept him. the story is unclear whether he applied and they turned him down or he never bothered to apply because he knew they would turn them down. the same way.ory the danger of having a storytellers they don't tell the same story twice the same way ever. he ended up commuting from baltimore to d.c. and he luckily ran into a mentor, the new dean , hamiltonchool houston. houston was creating what he felt was the ground troops for a
legal attack on jim crow. , hisood became his protege top student, and good friend. went back togood maryland to start his practice the situation of a young man, he had graduated from an elite white college. he wanted to go to law school. he got to thurgood about it and he said, we are going to take these guys on. i'm going to make sure they pay for what they have done to me. he had the guy apply and they turned him down and they -- and he said, why did you turn him down? he had gone to amherst college. yet graduated with honors. -- he had graduated with honors. why would you turn someone this educated down westmark and the answer was, -- this educated down?
and the answer was, because he was black. and that was their opening. they took the case to the maryland courts and the judge said, you know, you are right. there is no reason to exclude him because of his race. there is no black law school. if there is no black law school, then you've got to let him in. it went to the maryland appellate court and they agreed. that was the first big victory they have. the problem with it was, that only affected maryland stop -- maryland. they needed the same victory in the supreme court of the united states. that is what they continued to work for. houston and thurgood were what we call test case lawyers. they were always looking for that perfect case to bring before the court to get the ruling they wanted to change the laws, the interpretation of the law that would bring about social change. judge hamilton
had moved up to new york where he became the head of the legal for the naacp. there are wonderful letters between thurgood and houston where he says, thank you for the $75 for the work i did for you. it helped to keep the wolf off the door. is he convinced the naacp executive board to hire thurgood as his assistant. he was traveling any needed someone in the office. thurgood grabbed the job. it paid like $200 a month. he moved up to a place in harlem, he and his wife. and he does into this work, which was really is life's passion -- really was in his life passion. about 38, 39. charles -- charles houston
health was never really good. he decides to resign from the naacp and go back to teaching at howard. he convinced them to have thurgood the his replacement. at that time, the irs was starting to get on the naacp about fundraising, because they did lobbying and they also did legal work. they created a separate legal arm, a separate legal institution, the legal education -- legal institution education fund incorporated. thurgood was named its head. in addition to the connection to the enough -- naacp, he was running his own civil rights law firm. granted, it only had three lawyers at the time and a couple of assistants. ,ut they carried on this fight this consistent step-by-step campaign to find cases and bring up the logical and eagle inconsistencies of segregation to the justices -- and legal
inconsistencies of segregation to the justices of the supreme court will stop -- the supreme court. so that inrsus -- round versus board of education they won the victory. now, or within the next three years or five years. what he got was desegregate with all deliberate speed. asked, whate was does all deliver it speed mean? ow. he said, it meanssl -- it means slow. they intended to wear him out. they segregated schools and
we are not going to pay any attention to a political decision by an incompetent court. charles: he began to negotiate with the kennedy brothers. kennedy had won the presidency in 1960 in large part because of the support of the african-american community in northern states where they could vote. he knew he would have to name one or two african-american judges. and one of them was going to be in new york. it was originally bobby kennedy who was the attorney general who offered to thurgood the seat on the southern district court of new york, which is the premier trial court in this country, handling lots of commercial matters. it was the largest of the .istrict courts and for good said no, that will not work. i will argue with everybody and be too angry. i need a job on an appellate bench. said then nothing.
he said, i grew up with nothing. that is fine by me. he was playing poker with the kennedys. they had to appoint somebody and it had to be mr. thurgood marshall, mr. civil rights. secondappointed to the circuit court of appeals. over time, he got good at his job. he was not the best, but he got .ood at it then one day you get a call from the president of the united states. someone comes in and says, judge, judge, there is a call from the president. president of who, of what? no, the president of the united states. judge thurgood marshall on the line. when you hold? >> yes. hello? >> judge, how are you? >> fine. >> i have a big problem i want
to talk to you about. you to give it some real talk because it is something i've thought about eks and it -- for we is something we cannot think about how it affects us personally. we've got to think about the world and our country and our government, and then ourselves way down at the bottom of the list. i want you to be my solicitor general. you lose a lot. you lose security and you lose the freedom that you like, and youlose the philosophizing can do. i'm familiar with all those things. >> [inaudible] well, you won't lose any.
i want you to do it for two or three reasons. one, i want the top law here in the united states representing me before the supreme court to be a negro, and to be a dam good lawyer that has done it before. you have those peculiar qualifications. number two, i think it will do a lot for our image abroad and at the that this is the man whole government has to look to to decide whether to prosecute a case or whether it be case goes up or doesn't. >> everyone knew he was being groomed for the supreme court. johnson wanted to name an african-american supreme court. there had been about a dozen cases and his staff argued more.
one of the big one was miranda versus arizona, which he supported the outcome of. and then ramsey clark was named attorney general. and his father, the justice tom i cannot stay a justice with my son as attorney general. he resigned and deceit was open. -- the seat was open. and thurgood said, you're not going to give it -- get the job. they are going to give it to somebody else. the next thing he is he gets a call and, you need to come to the white house for an event. you need to see the boss. he goes and down in front of johnson and johnson says, you to be thent next associate justice on the supreme court of the united states. and he went on to a court that he was very comfortable with. it was the last year of the liberal warren court.
but then nixon becomes president and he names to justices, including rehnquist, a very conservative justice, a more moderate conservative in blackman. and he begins to name justices to the court who are conservative. he's trying to change the nature of the court. it doesn't take fully in the 1970's. but the court is beginning after 1973 to shift to the right. and by the 1980's, when the reagan appointees come on there is now a clear majority that is conservative. and thurgood finds himself more and more in the minority. so he would write this memo. i will in due course submit a dissent. thurgood marshall is one of the few justices that wrote more dissents than majority opinions.
he wrote more than 300. and they were biting and angry and frustrated. and as time went on, he became more frustrated and more angry. and he always said, i'm going to be in this job until i die. if the life of women and i will serve it. by 1991, his health is right and his eyesight is gone and he has trouble walking and breathing and his eyesight is not so good. if i said, before you die, get off the court. so he announces his resignation and in 18 months he would be dead. the great irony was, had he stayed until his death, it wouldn't of been -- wouldn't have been george w. bush -- george h.w. bush who named his successor. he named clarence thomas, who thurgood had no respect for. said, a snake is a snake, whether it is white or black. he was talking about justice thomas. -- he died in office, his
the next would have been chosen by clinton. he had just been sworn into office. his job wasays knew to fix what was broken. that is why in the 30's and 40's foughteled the south and against jim crow. he took the insults because he system,e to change the not to rail against the weight was treating him. he knew ultimately he would get what he wanted. as i say in the book tour the end of the chapter of his appointment to the supreme court, he was mr. justice marshall and that sounded perfectly fine to him. >> c-span city store was in fort lauderdale and we with william crawford about his book "florida's big d