On Friday March 6, 2015, most of the staff of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department attended a riveting performance reviewing the life and work of American icon Thurgood Marshall. The performance was absolutely amazing! I was able to spend a relaxing evening in the company of colleagues and friends, and learn much about a most influential man. Perhaps as much as any other single person in the twentieth century, Thurgood Marshall impacted rules governing the social order of the United States. His legacy guides the work of a generation of legal professionals and activists who dream of a more just and perfect union.
As lead counsel arguing, and winning, the landmark case of Brown v. the Board of Education, Thurgood Marshall completed a strategy that unfolded across decades and marked the beginning of the end of American racial segregation in its legalized form. Later, as the first African-American Justice of the United States Supreme Court, he left a lasting stamp on a number of social and legal regimes and public policy debates.
The Illusion Theater in downtown Minneapolis took head-on the task of teaching the life and legacy of Thurgood Marshall through artistic expression and re-enactment. More specifically, actor James Craven gave a tour-de-force two hours, one man performance as the title character re-counting Thurgood Marshall’s crowning achievements. Mr. Craven’s ability to single-handedly captivate an audience for so long paid great tribute not only to the source material but also his own impressive charisma and wisdom.
As a civil rights attorney, I enjoyed the legal review of significant cases explained in chronological order. As a human being, I left the Illusion Theater that evening freshly re-invigorated and reminded that Thurgood Marshall fought for my soul. He swayed the worldview and racial attitudes of my grandparents, parents, and children. Thank you for your incredible sacrifice and contribution Mr. Marshall. I promise that the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights will continue to honor your vision.
– Brian Walsh