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The Lawyer as Hero

The enduring legacy of Thurgood Marshall

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Dream Makers, Dream Breakers: The World of Justice Thurgood Marshall by Carl T. Rowan

Thurgood Marshall: Justice for All by Roger Goldman with David Gallen

Thurgood Marshall: Warrior at the Bar, Rebel on the Bench by Michael D. Davis and Hunter R. Clark

Given the feeling in black America that other folks are always trying to cloak their causes in the magnificent moral raiments of the civil rights movement, there must be a lot of bitter chortling going on over the claim that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the Thurgood Marshall of feminism. Ginsburg tried her landmark sex discrimination cases of the 1970s as a tenured law professor married to a prosperous tax lawyer. Marshall spent the better part of three decades in frequent physical danger as he traveled through the South filing lawsuits on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Marshall and the Fund were perpetually broke; he once filed for 11 cents' worth of travel expense reimbursement. Death threats, secret hideouts and a never-ending barrage of racial epithets were part of the ordinary routine for him. On at least two occasions, small-town Southern lynch mobs were convened for the purpose of doing him in.

A few years ago in The Washington Post Magazine, Juan Williams, by way of drawing attention to the large gap between white and black perceptions of Marshall, called him "the most important black man of this century," which, indeed, had a distinct shock effect. What about King? What about DuBois? What about Malcolm X? Even Louis Armstrong and Jackie Robinson loom larger in the historical consciousness of the country as a whole. As Williams pointed out, most whites think of Marshall as a Supreme Court justice--and, he might have added, not a great one.

From the standpoint of the gaggle of perfect 25-year-olds who, as clerks leaking to the press, are our main source of nuanced information about the Court, the Marshall of the 1970s and 1980s didn't cut it. He played a notoriously small role in the writing of his own opinions, relying on his clerks as drafters (or, as one former clerk put it, giving them "creative freedom in drafting opinions") to a greater extent than any other justice. He didn't expend great effort in trying to influence the other justices, and so he had little effect on the overall direction of the Court; his friend William Brennan would do the negotiating for liberalism, knowing that he had Marshall's vote in his pocket. Intellectually, Marshall hardened into a position of adherence to a handful of deeply felt positions (opposition to the death penalty; support for affirmative action, privacy and the rights of the accused) and did not give the impression that he was engaged in a dialectical interplay between his inclinations and the changing nature of American life.

Marshall didn't act like a Supreme Court justice, either. His un-Holmesian way of life included regular trips to racetracks and Atlantic City casinos, copious consumption (by today's standards) of Winstons and Wild Turkey and conversation filled with profanity and a 1940s boulevardier's slang. (He sometimes addressed his brethren as "baby.") All this was the style of a certain time and place--a time and place where no other justice or clerk had ever been--and also, perhaps, this style had some of the forced jauntiness of the combat soldier about it, having been adopted as a response to a life of unending fear and risk. But it often led those who knew Marshall only toward the end of his life to describe him patronizingly, as a colorful character, the Court's clowning token Negro.

You can imagine Marshall's hurt and rage over this view of him. His life makes one of the great heroic stories of American history; next to it the pre-Court career of every other justice, even a former president like Taft, a leading intellectual like Frankfurter or a great reformer like Brandeis, looks like a dull bourgeois progression up the ranks of society. I don't mean here to ascribe status to Marshall on the basis of his having "known poverty and discrimination," which was the rhetoric of Clarence Thomas's handlers. What is awe-inspiring about Marshall is what he did.

Marshall was evidently not one of those powerful men who can't let anyone get close enough to become a warm friend, or who is noble in public but monstrous in private. So far the job of telling his life story has been in the hands of people who knew and loved him: Carl Rowan first met Marshall back in the early 1950s, and Hunter Clark, as a high school student, was chief page of the Supreme Court and had Marshall's sponsorship as he went on to college and law school. Rowan had contracted to ghostwrite Marshall's autobiography--a project that Marshall dropped, though he could have used the money, apparently because he couldn't bring himself to discuss Supreme Court deliberations publicly--and interviewed Marshall on camera in connection with two public T.V. shows he produced.

Clark and Michael Davis have produced a straightforward, workmanlike and useful biography of Marshall, written mostly from public sources and without any evident special access to Marshall himself- Rowan's book is closer to a memoir. He has had much more original material on which to draw: decades, of personal contact with Marshall, some one-on-one recent interview material (perhaps done for the aborted autobiography) and the ordinarily closed archives of the NAACP. But evidently Marshall told Rowan very little on the record about his Court years---"just ain't gonna talk," Rowan quotes him as saying--and Rowan had to write before the Marshall papers in the Library of Congress became available. In the book Rowan feels free to stray from Marshall's life story and to digress about his own experiences. And he editorializes copiously, especially about Washington politics in the 1970s and 1980s. You get the feeling that although Rowan isn't able to quote Marshall on recent events, one reason he is so free with his own views might be that he knows them to be essentially the same as Marshall's.

Although both books are admiring, even worshipful, they differ in interesting ways. Rowan consistently takes the position that racism is the great overriding force in American life, that it explains everything about Marshall's own story. Davis and Clark, members of the post-civil rights generation, emphasize class. An early and illustrative point of contrast between the two books is on the issue of Marshall's childhood. Davis and Clark present Marshall as a member of the Talented Tenth. His grandfather was a freed slave who fought in the Union Army, then operated a grocery store in Baltimore and owned a home in the best-off black neighborhood in the city. Marshall's father was a Pullman porter and then a waiter at a fancy white country club--jobs that sound bad today, but in the early twentieth century put you tar above the middle of the black social structure. His mother was a graduate of Teacher's College at Columbia. His first wife, Vivian "Buster" Burey, was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Marshall himself went to Lincoln University, a private black school in Pennsylvania with an all-white faculty, where his classmates included Langston Hughes, Cab Calloway and Kwame Nkrumah. His lone sibling became a surgeon. The family had no money--Marshall's mother had to pawn her engagement ring to send him to law school--but it was established and respectable, and well-acquainted with the light-skinned black elite of Baltimore.

Rowan hints that Marshall's lather was an alcoholic and a quasi-broken man, because of the pain of being relegated to the role of servant. During Marshall's infancy his parents lived in New York City--according to Davis and Clark, so that his mother could get her graduate degree. But Rowan has them moving as "part of the great migration," receiving an unspecified "chilly reception" attributable to a wave of racist sentiment then sweeping the nation and "after five disillusioning years,” returning to Baltimore to live with relatives. Marshall's brother, William, Rowan says, was repeatedly passed over tot the directorship of the tuberculosis sanitarium where he worked, until finally (here he is quoting Marshall) "his heart just gave out." As Rowan tells it, Marshall himself was far from a model child: he once worked for a bootlegger, he drank too much and he was "on the verge of being thrown out of Lincoln ... every year." Rowan's much more tragic and angry version of Marshall's early life is useful because it helps answer what might be called the Antonin Scalia question about Marshall: Wasn't his powerful sense of the aggrievement of all black people something of a pose, or even a self-delusion? Rowan, thunderously, would say no, it wasn't.

Marshall's life follows a nearly perfect arc of purpose from 1930, when he was 22 years old, until his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1967. As a senior at Lincoln he applied to the University of Maryland's law school and was rejected solely on the grounds of his race, a slight that couldn't have come as a great surprise but that so infuriated him that he could speak with fresh bitterness about it until the end of his life. Instead he went to Howard, where he became the protégé of the dean, Charles Hamilton Houston. For Houston, the purpose of Howard Law School was to be a training ground for civil rights legal cadres--to turn out a graduate who would be "a social engineer and group interpreter" who "must be prepared to an anticipate, guide and interpret his group advancement"--a view that Marshall adopted and held for the rest of his life. In 1934 Houston left Howard to become the chief counsel for the NAACP. Marshall, who had been conducting a solo practice in Baltimore that did a good deal of NAACP work, moved to New York in 1936 to be Houston's deputy. In 1938, Houston, suffering from tuberculosis and a bad heart, decided to return to Washington, and Marshall, at the age of 30, rook charge of the NAACP's legal department.

The NAACP was founded in 1909, the year after Marshall was born. In its early years it was white-dominated, and its main cause was to combat the wave of lynchings sweeping the South. During the period just before Marshall went to work there, the NAACP changed substantially, becoming more of a black organization, and more important, embracing a new central purpose: mounting a legal challenge to segregated public education. The chief counsel who wrote the original memo that stated this idea was Nathan Margold, Houston's predecessor, but Houston (and Marshall) embraced it wholeheartedly. Bitter internal disputes preceded the NAACP setting off on its long journey through the courts: Communists who believed in putting protests above lawsuits, and nationalists who wanted to concentrate on building up black America internal rather than on pushing for integration had to be vanquished first. W.E.B. DuBois, then in a nationalist phase, was ousted as editor of The Crisis in 193 because of his opposition to Margold's and Houston's ideas.

Marshall's accession to the chief counsel's job, then, was perfectly tinted. He was too young to have had to waste a time or political capital establishing the mission, and so he could devote all his energies to pursuing it. From the day that he entered law school until his appointment as a federal appeals judge ill 1961, Marshall's life was about on thing: fighting for black people through lawsuits. (From 1961 to 1967 it was about preparing to go on the Supreme Court. To debate the strengths and the weaknesses of the NAACP'S ideas in retrospect is quite interesting, but the central point about Marshall himself is that he carried these ideas out with full intellectual commitment, legal skill, organizational support and personal courage, never doubting or wavering.

The theory of the NAACP was that an immediate, direct attack on Plessy v. Ferguson he 1896 case in which the Supreme Court endorsed the principle of "separate but equal" as being consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment would fail. Therefore it would begin by nibbling around Plessy's edges, building up an elaborate set of precedent-setting pro-civil rights court decisions along the way. The early school eases were filet against professional schools--partly because there were no state-run professional schools for Negroes in most of the South, so the separate but equal defense couldn't even be raised, and partly because integration at that level was marginally less threatening to the white South than was integration of grade schools. During the brief period where he was practicing law in Baltimore, Marshall was involved in the first of these cases, Murray v. the University of Maryland (1935), in which he and Houston got sweet revenge against the Maryland law school by winning a judge's order that it admit its first black student.

The landmark victories, in and out of the field of education, rolled on. In Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938), Mar shall got the Supreme Court to order the integration of the University of Missouri's law school. In Smith v. Allwright (1944), the Court ruled that the Texas Democratic Party's "white primary" was unconstitutional. In Morgan v. the Commonwealth of Virginia (1946), the segregated back of the bus was outlawed on interstate carriers. Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) did away with the neighborhood "restrictive covenants" that routinely for bade the sale of houses to blacks, Jews and members of other minority groups Sipuel v. Oklahoma State Board of Regent (1948) won a black woman admission to the University of Oklahoma's law school (a ruling that the state successfully circumvented by establishing a new law school for Ada Sipuel to attend alone, taught by three professors). In Sweatt v. Painter and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (1950), Marshall finally challenged Plessy directly, and won a partial victory: in Sweatt the court ordered black student admitted to the University, of Texas law school even though there was a separate (though demonstrably unequal) state law school for blacks, ant in McLaurin it ruled that the University of Oklahoma could no longer force a 68 year-old black graduate student to sit in separate section of his classrooms marked "Reserved for Coloreds."

Merely reciting this litany of Supreme Court victories, which would haw made any lawyer a legend, fails to convey fully Marshall's importance. He was a hero in black America, and what made him one was his willingness to travel anywhere, no matter how exhausted he was, no matter how broke, no matter how dangerous place it was for uppity Negroes, and take on a case that had merit. It is arguable that his reputation among blacks was based more on the cases that he lost (especially a series of suits on behalf of the unfairly accused, convicted ant imprisoned) than on the cases that he won. He brought these cases at a time when it was still extremely rare for black man to occupy a position of official authority in the wider society, let alone one that allowed him to challenge white authority figures openly.

Marshall's reputation was essential in transforming the NAACP froth a small organization supported by a handful of white philanthropists into a membership organization supported by a wide black constituency. As Davis and Clark point out, the two men who ran the NAACP; Walter White and Roy Wilkins, were both perceived as snobs by non-bourgeois blacks, but Marshall had the common touch. By the late 1940s, he was prominent enough to be able to press the civil rights cause personally with high officials of government--in 1951, for example, he went to Korea to investigate complaint about discrimination in the armed threes, and was immediately given a long private audience with Douglas MacArthur. He also had a talent for mentoring, and helped train such young lawyers as Spottswood Robinson, Robert Carter Constance Baker Motley, William T. Coleman and Jack Greenberg, while also serving for many more lawyers whom he didn't know as the model of the lawyer-as-crusader against injustice.

And all this is the early Marshall record that precedes his crowning achievement, the overturning, at long last, of Plessy in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision of 1954. The story of the Brown case is so dramatic it almost sounds made-up: Marshall's assembling of a team of sociologists, psychologists and historians to transform social science into a courtroom weapon; the face-off between Marshall mad white-maned John W. Davis, perhaps the two greatest Supreme Court advocates of the twentieth century; the memo that William Rehnquist wrote as a clerk urging that Plessy be upheld; the sudden death of Chief Justice Fred Vinson, just when it looked as if the Court wouldn't be able to reach a decision, and his replacement by Earl Warren; Marshall's wife learning that she had terminal cancer and keeping tire news from him until after the decision was handed down, so that he would be able to concentrate fully on the case.

The Brown decision put racial issues immediately at the center of American public life, and effectively set the agenda for our domestic politics in the second half of the twentieth century. In Thurgood Marshall: Justice for All, an anthology of Marshalliana, Stephen Carter argues that the Brown decision made not just Marshall's reputation, but also the reputation of the Supreme Court, which "would have sunk slowly into obscurity" if it hadn't picked up the gauntlet that Marshall threw down before it. This may sound exaggerated, but it is true that the part of the Court's work that gets the most attention--its decisions or abortion, crime, voting rights and other discrimination-related issues--has for the past forty years consisted substantially of either explorations of Brown's full ramifications, or of attempts to apply Brown like logic mother areas.

Martin Luther King Jr. had just accepted the call to become pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery when the Brown decision was handed down. It's hard to imagine that the Montgomery bus boycott and all that followed would have taken place if Plessy bad stood, but it isn't as if the civil rights baton was willingly passed from Marshall to King after Brown, either Marshall and his predecessors at the NAACP had built their lives around the idea that it would be counterproductive to break the law openly in service of the civil rights cause, as King was doing Rowan quotes Marshall telling him, at the time of the Montgomery bus boycott, "All that walking for nothing. They might as well have waited for the Court decision."

There must have been some element of jealousy in Marshall's reaction to King, who was twenty years younger and was winning a celebrity in the white press that Marshall never had. Davis and Clark have Marshall calling King "a boy on a man's errand," an "opportunist" and a "rabble-rouser," even though Marshall did grudgingly come around to a position of helping to bail King's people out of Southern jails. His personal feelings about King aside, Marshall believed that winning lawsuits was by far the most reliable way to affect change. Davis and Clark say that he tried to talk students out of participating in the Freedom Rides, and that he was horrified by King's use of children as marchers in Birmingham. He didn't see that such tactics could produce victories.

King's career demonstrated the great effectiveness of a two-cushion shot: mass protest and soaring oratory changing public opinion (through press coverage of the civil rights movement), the pressure of public opinion then inducing the executive and legislative branches of the federal government (which Marshall thought would never move on civil rights), rather than the Supreme Court, to act. Marshall's career after Brown demonstrates, sadly, the inherent limitations of victories won in the judicial branch.

In the short run, even the Supreme Court, with its immense power of fiat, pushes up against the limits of public consent, especially on racial issues. The sorry state of black enfranchisement in the South during the twenty years between the Smith v. Allwright decision and the Voting Rights Act is one case in point. Another is the Court's rehearing of the Brown case, resulting in the order that the South proceed on school integration "with all deliberate speed" (an immense disappointment to Marshall, who said to Rowan, "How the luck do you have all deliberate speed?"), which surely was motivated in part by a fear that if the order had said "immediately" it would have been openly flouted, and the legitimacy of the Court undermined. In the long run, Marshall's judicial victories produced a political backlash that contributed to the election of Republican presidents, who appointed conservative Supreme Court justices, who to some extent undid the victories. It was Marshall's misfortune that this dynamic dominated his own time on the Court.

If it hadn't been for the downfall of Abe Fortas, which prevented Lyndon Johnson from being able to name two new justices, including a chief justice, before he left the presidency, Marshall might have been able to serve on a Court with which he felt more comfortable. And yet the Court remained quite liberal, by today's standards, for some time. Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, the pro-busing decision that was the last of the Court's unanimous civil rights rulings, came under Warren Burger in 1970. A Nixon appointee, Harry Blackmun, wrote the opinion in Roe v. Wade, which was issued in 1973 on the day that Johnson died. (Rowan says that the fetal viability standard used in Roe was Marshall's idea, which makes Marshall responsible for Roe's viability.)

A Fortas Court, moreover, could not have been much more than a liberal interlude because the political climate was changing. Johnson had it in mind for years to put Marshall on the Court, made him solicitor general in 1965 to continue the grooming process the Kennedys had begun by appointing him to the Second Circuit and may even have appointed Ramsey Clark attorney general in 1967 in order to force the resignation of Clark's father, Tom (you couldn't have a father sitting in judgment of his son's cases), and so create a Court vacancy for Marshall. But in retirement Johnson told. Marshall that it was appointing a black Supreme Court justice, not Vietnam, that caused his political demise. It was a manipulative thing to say (Johnson wanted Marshall's gratitude, and got it), hut Marshall, at least, didn't find it implausible. If there is any truth at all to Johnson's hypothesis, then conservative presidents and a conservative Court were indeed inevitable.

Marshall wrote 1,881 dissents as a Supreme Court justice. One of his early painful experiences on the Court was seeing its consensus on school integration, the issue with which be was most closely associated in the public mind, break down in 1974 in the 5-4 Milliken v. Bradley decision, which over turned city-to-suburbs busing in Detroit. On the night after the Court announced its refusal, in Gregg v. Georgia (1976), to declare execution a form of cruel and unusual punishment, Marshall suffered a heart attack. Evidently Marshall made some kind of peace with Burger (who provided a blurb for the jacket of Rowan's book), but the election of Ronald Reagan, the elevation of William Rehnquist to the chief justiceship and the appointments of Justices Scalia, Kennedy and Souter were apparently more than he could take. During the late 1980s he made unjustice-like public attacks on the direction of the Court and on Reagan. The decision in the case of Payne v. Tennessee (1991), in which the Court declared that "victim impact statements" could be used in criminal trials, "broke his spirit and heart," according to Rowan. He announced his resignation on the day it was handed down.

The toughest question that can be asked about Thurgood Marshall is whether he is admirable but no longer instructive. Does he belong on the roster of great figures in American history (like Franklin Roosevelt) who seem to have grappled successfully with themes that have since been grappled with unsuccessfully, or with those figures' (like George Washington) whose achievements are enormous but seem to have no present-day applicability? To put him in the former class, where I think he belongs, requires a careful framing of the case. Certainly the argument that he is not a beacon anymore is easier to make. It would be that, first, making the court system the arena in which the civil rights struggle is played out is an idea whose time has passed: after the enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, blacks in the South were no longer massively disfranchised, which meant that legislatures would become the best place to press the cause, not least because victories won there tend to last longer. And second, Marshall's key issues--abolition of capital punishment, school integration, affirmative action--are not directly relevant to the main problems in black America today, which are crime, unemployment, poverty, poor education and the dissolution of the family.

The usable Marshall is one not viewed through doe lens of his strategy and his tactics, but more broadly. These days, most people who think about the drawbacks of the lawsuit strategy, and about the lack of fit between traditional civil rights remedies and the agony of the ghettos, wind up with some kind of nationalist position: that black America shouldn't look for help from white folks, but should generate internal solutions (economic and moral, not legislative or judicial) to its problems. The premise of Kenneth Clark's "doll experiments," which Marshall cited in Brown, was that classroom proximity to whites would improve black kids' self-concept--which seems embarrassingly out of date. The consensus in contemporary black America is a blend of the views of Malcolm X and Booker T. Washington: fierce racial pride, political confrontationalism, economic self-reliance.

This position has tremendous appeal, emotionally and on the basis of its airtight internal logic. Its weakness, as Marshall knew, is that it isn't very practical. It envisions black America as a nation of shopkeepers, which it never has been and is not now. Long before you get into discussions of strategy and tactics, you have to define an overall goal. For Marshall, the overall goal was for blacks to join the mainstream of American life, politically, educationally and economically; and this is emphatically not the goal of nationalism. If we need a towering historical figure to remind us that standing apart (or being kept apart) from the rest of the country is never going to be good for black America, Marshall fits the bill about as well as anyone.

So why couldn't he also have laid out a path leading toward the goal that seems more satisfying to us today? A large part of the answer is that he had a profound pessimism (though less profound than the pessimism of the nationalists) about whether whites would ever willingly embrace anything that would truly help blacks. Some of the appeal of the judicial strategy, surely, was the idea that convincing a few tenured white judges who can then issue an order is a lot easier than convincing millions of white voters and their hundreds of elected representatives. Once Marshall was on the Supreme Court, he seems to have had little faith even in that institution, and therefore he didn't try to hammer out a position in concert with the other eight justices that would lead to some model of black advancement about which whites would agree. On abortion, evidently, he was the justice who found a way to formulate legalization so as to maximize the likelihood of public acceptance. On the racial issues that were much closer to his heart, he abandoned the "equal starting line" rhetoric of his Brown days and became a total supporter of quotas and set-asides, the policies with the least likelihood of public acceptance. If, as its founders believed, a subtler version of affirmative action was possible (with government ordering the broadening of the search but not its final result), Marshall had little interest in helping to define it. Davis and Clark quote him telling William O. Douglas in conference, "You guys have been practicing discrimination for years. Now it is our turn."

In mild defense of Marshall, his foremost concern, education as a mobility-launcher, is possibly the one most difficult aspect of the already dreadfully difficult subject of race relations. Retrospectively, it seems obvious why the desegregation of public facilities in the South was successfully accomplished: nothing of consequence was at stake. Social segregation seemed important to white southerners only because they felt themselves to be living in a caste society. In fact, they were moving into the national system, in which education, and not birth, is the great distributor of life outcomes. What matters is who gets the slots in the good schools and what educational credentials are used in employment, not who sits where in buses and movie theaters.

The congeries of race, education and opportunity also yield less readily to a clear sense of moral position than the old-fashioned segregation issues did. Think of the difference between the ringing, unanimous Brown decision and the Court's decision in University of California Regents v. Bakke (1978): 5-4 for racial preferences, 5-4 against numerical quotas. Most people would like to see a more equal racial result without it being an explicitly- mandated racial result. Figuring out how to produce this, through various improvements and changes in the educational system, could be seen as a great, soaring challenge; but it seems that Marshall would have seen it as a waste of time, because from where he sat, the United States looked like a country that had always found a way to set black people back, except in a few extraordinary cases involving force.

Just as comparisons of Justice Ginsburg's pre-Court career to Justice Marshalls are misplaced, it is highly unlikely that her role on the Court will be much like his was. The group whose cause is Ginsburg's cause is not operating at a massive educational disadvantage, and it is not disproportionately made up of prisoners and poor people (13 percent of white women are poor, 16 percent of women, 33 percent of blacks and 37 percent of black women). The whole national enterprise probably seems more noble to her than it did to Marshall. Sitting around the conference table with the other justices, she will be much likelier than Marshall to be proceeding from the same basic assumptions about how well the society is functioning. Genuine empathy for feminism, moreover, might be easier to come by on the Supreme Court than it was tot Marshall's issues: every justice has blood ties to women (two of them now are women), only one does to blacks. In Ginsburg's situation, it's vastly easier to play an important part in shaping the consensus.

Marshall may not be much of a felt presence on this Court. It would be better, anyway, if his impact were now felt widely across the society rather than intensely within the judiciary. Courts will continue to struggle with all the matters that Marshall brought to them in the first place; but what they cannot do is make tiffs a country in which, to turn around one of Marshall's favorite lines, you'd have to look at your hand to remember you were black. The much more likely vehicle for social change is legislated improvement of black education, the restoration (with government help) of decent, sale conditions in poor black neighborhoods and a breaking down of the barriers confronting people who are ready to leave these neighborhoods. Done well, all this could be self-reinforcing: as people saw that such efforts could work, they would support tire undertaking of more of them.

We are living in a time when the idea that government can do anything to resolve the American dilemma comes across as more or less absurd, in a time when people of both races feel they are acquitting their moral obligation simply by calling on black people to set their own house in order through the acquisition of "values" and the development of "responsible leadership." To frame racial issues as a predicament for the entire society, as a problem to be solved by government action, is, now, both daring and right. And it is Thurgood Marshall's legacy.