Friday, February 26, 2010

Black History Month: Episcopalians

(July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993)

The grandson of a freed slave, Marshall is best known for his landmark 1954 Civil Rights victory; the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that desegregated schools. But before this, he spent 30 years risking his life in order to file lawsuits across the South on behalf of the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund, among his many accomplishments.

While he did not speak publicly about his faith, Marshall worshipped at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church from 1965 until his death in 1993 and also served on the vestry. He raised his two sons in the church and his widow, Cissy, is still a member of the parish.

When he was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice in 1967, Marshall's Bible was open to 1 Corinthians 13, a chapter that describes God's gift of love. His legendary record of opinions and dissents demonstrated his unwavering commitment to protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans. Justice Marshall announced his retirement on June 27, 1991, citing the duties of a Justice were incompatible with his advancing age and medical condition. Asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, “I did the best I could with what I had.”

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