Thurgood Marshall's courthouse

Dec. 7, 2020

Thurgood Marshall stands in a Baltimore courtroom with his client, Donald Gaines Murray

A 1935 photograph shows Thurgood Marshall, a young lawyer at the counsel table, in the Baltimore City Courthouse. Mid-argument, he stands with notes in one hand and the other outstretched to underscore a point. Marshall’s mentor, Charles Hamilton Houston, sits to his far left making notes. At Marshall’s elbow is his client, Donald Gaines Murray, who beams admiringly at his attorney.

Murray was among Marshall’s first clients. Murray too had been raised in Baltimore, and during the early 1920s, had lived in the same neighborhood as Marshall. Murray had left the city to attend Amherst College but had returned after graduation and applied to the University of Maryland Law School, only to have his application returned with the explanation that the school did not admit African Americans. When the Board of Regents ignored his appeal of that decision, Murray filed suit, and in June 1935, he, Marshall, and Houston went to court.