What’s In a Name?


Do you know the history and meaning behind the name of some of Clubs’s rowing shells?

The Club has a system for naming, or in some cases renaming, its shells that links the Club to Baltimore neighbors, landmarks, bodies of water, known and lesser known historical figures, and in one case a continuation of a tradition.

I am happy to announce that the Club’s new HW single has been named Thurgood Marshall.

Thurgood Marshall

July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving from October 1967 until October 1991. Marshall was the Court’s 96th justice and its first African-American justice.

Before becoming a judge, Marshall was a lawyer who was best known for his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court and for the victory in Brown v. Board of Education, a 1954 decision that ruled that segregated public schools were unconstitutional. He served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after being appointed by President John F. Kennedy. He was appointed as the Solicitor General by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. President Johnson nominated him to the United States Supreme Court in 1967 and he was approved by the Senate.

Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 2, 1908. One of his great-grandfathers was born in the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo, captured, and was taken to the United States as a slave Marshall’s paternal grandfather had also been enslaved.   His original name was Thoroughgood, but he shortened it to Thurgood in second grade because he disliked spelling it. His father, William Marshall, worked as a railroad porter, and his mother Norma, as a teacher; they instilled in him an appreciation for the United States Constitution and the rule of law.

Marshall attended Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore and was placed in the class with the best students. He graduated a year early in 1925 with a B-grade average, and placed in the top third of the class. He went to Lincoln University. It is commonly reported that he intended to study medicine and become a dentist.

But according to his application to Lincoln University, Marshall said his goal was to become a lawyer. Among his classmates were poet Langston Hughes and musician Cab Calloway. Initially he did not take his studies seriously, and was suspended twice for hazing and pranks against fellow students. He was not politically active at first, becoming a “star” of the debating team.

In his freshman year he opposed the integration of African-American professors at the university Hughes later described Marshall as “rough and ready, loud and wrong”. In his second year Marshall participated in a sit-in protest against segregation at a local movie theater. In that year, he was initiated as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first fraternity founded by and for blacks. His marriage to Vivien Burey in September 1929 encouraged him to take his studies seriously, and he graduated from Lincoln with honors (cum laude) Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, with a major in American literature and philosophy.

Marshall wanted to study in his hometown law school, the University of Maryland School of Law, but did not apply because of the school’s segregation policy. Marshall instead attended Howard University School of Law, where he worked harder than he had at Lincoln and his views on discrimination were heavily influenced by the dean Charles Hamilton Houston. In 1933, he graduated first in his class at Howard.

 

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