Correcting Facts on “Young Thurgood”: Big Fish Q&A with UM Law Professor Larry Gibson
For decades, UM law prof and political consultant Larry Gibson found himself talking the record straight about Thurgood Marshall’s youth and young adulthood – it bothered him that the media held certain basic misconceptions about the justice. For example, Marshall didn’t resent his hometown of Baltimore. He didn’t lack a sense of humor. Nor did Marshall ever intend to be a dentist! Of course, there’s meatier more (the meticulously researched book weighs in at 413 pages). But you’ll have to read Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice (Prometheus) for the larger, nuanced character study.
Gibson first met Marshall on July 1, 1975 when he knocked on the justice’s door at 11 p.m. to ask a bathrobe-clad Marshall to sign an emergency order on behalf of Roland Patterson, the Baltimore schools superintendent whose job was on the line. The men would meet again a few times. But that late evening 37 years ago marked an important moment for Gibson, and for Marshall, too. Personalities sparked: the justice welcomed the young lawyer and his associate into his home to talk at leisurely length, until two in the morning, in fact.
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