As cities from New York to North Charleston, S.C., to Ferguson, Mo., grapple with race issues, it might be a good time to review the stunning career of a man some call the greatest U.S. lawyer of the 20th century.
On May 12 at 6:30 p.m. the Bloomington Human Rights Commission will conduct a free public screening of the documentary, "Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP" at the Bloomington Civic Plaza, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Road.
The film, which aired earlier on PBS, will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker Mick Caouette, Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank, Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Kevin Ross, and Josie Johnson, longtime civil rights leader in Minnesota.
Before becoming a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Marshall argued and won more cases before the Supreme Court than any other lawyer in American history. He mobilized a legal assault on segregationist laws, paving the way for the modern civil rights movement. He argued and won the landmark 1954 case desegregating public schools, Brown v. Board of Education.
Over decades, working for the NAACP, he traveled the nation advocating equal rights at a time when doing so could be fatal. Sometimes he slept at two or three homes in a single night. Once, a white sheriff told him to leave on threat of death. Another time he was nearly lynched.
The Bloomington program is co-sponsored by the U.S. District Court of Minnesota and the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. It caps a four-week "Open Doors" program in April and May that will send more than 65 lawyers and judges into high school classrooms in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington to discuss Marshall's career. The programs hope to inspire students to think about a career in law.
Reservations are requested for the May 12 screening: Call 952-563-4944, TTY 952-563-4933 or e-mail reservations@BloomingtonMN.gov.