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National Commentary

Thurgood Marshall’s Legacy: Equal Justice Matters

By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

NNPA Columnist

This month marks what would have been the 107th birthday of the late United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Given our long struggle for equal justice in America and the need to continue to press forward to ensure freedom, justice and equality for all, it is important to reflect on the key principles upon which Thurgood Marshall achieved his monumental success.

Thurgood Marshall said, “Racism separates, but it never liberates. Hatred generates fear, and fear once given a foothold; binds, consumes and imprisons. Nothing is gained from prejudice. No one benefits from racism.” Marshall was right.

The ideology and practice of White supremacy continues to be a deadly contradiction of an America’s professed ideals and affront to all humanity.

Racially motivated police brutality, racial terrorism against Black Americans, resurgence of the mindset that rationalizes the Confederacy, voter suppression, mass incarceration, miseducation, and the growing economic inequalities all point to the urgency for a sustained long-term equal justice movement. Consequently, equal justice also matters.

One of Marshall’s most profound public addresses was in 1987 to commemorate the U.S. bicentennial. He stated, “What is striking is the role legal principles have played throughout America’s history in determining the condition of Negroes. They were enslaved by law, emancipated by law, disenfranchised and segregated by law; and, finally, they have begun to win equality by law. Along the way, new constitutional principles have emerged to meet the challenges of a changing society. The progress has been dramatic, and it will continue.”

Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached for national advertisement sales and partnership proposals at:; and for lectures and other professional consultations at: http://drbenja

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Read entire editorial in New Journal and Guide, July 9-15, 2015.

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