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Alumni Work to Create Thurgood Marshall Professorship

Donors at the Board of Visitors meeting which established the Marshall Professorship. Left to right, Thatcher Stone'82, Noel Gordon'90, Jeffrey White'97, P.J. Cowan, and Cam Cowan'81.

Leadership Gifts to the Marshall Research Professorship Were Made By:

Bernard J. Carl'72, a former law clerk to Justice Marshall and now president of Brazos Europe;

Alfonso L. Carney, Jr.,'74, retired vice president and associate general counsel of Altria Group, Inc.,

The Honorable Delores R. Boyd'75, U.S. magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama;

Norborne “Bunny” Berkeley, Jr.'49, retired president of Chase Manhattan Bank;

Euclid A. Irving'76, partner, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky, & Walker LLP;

Jeffrey L. Humber, Jr.,'78, retired senior vice president and head of global diversity for Merrill Lynch and former co-CEO of Merrill Lynch South Africa;

Mikael Salovaara (Darden/Law'79), a private investor and former managing director of Goldman Sachs;

Glenn R. Carrington'80, deputy managing partner of the Washington national tax office of Deloitte & Touche;

F. Blair Wimbush'80, senior general counsel for Norfolk Southern Corporation;

Cameron L. Cowan'81, a partner in the Washington office of Orrick;

Thatcher Stone'82 (A&S'78), a partner in the New York office of Alston & Bird;

Eva Chess'85, director of communications for R. R. Donnelley;

Donald McEachin'86, a Richmond trial lawyer who served in the Virginia House of Delegates;

Kim Keenan'87, a senior trial attorney with Jack H. Olender & Associates in Washington, D.C., and president of the National Bar Association;

Byron F. Marchant'87, executive vice president, general counsel, and chief administrative officer of Black Entertainment Television, Inc.;

Noel H. Gordon'90, CEO of Reign Enterprises, a legal staffing company in Princeton, NJ;

Jeffrey L. White'97, who practices in the Washington, D.C., office of Covington & Burling;

Jerome W.D. Stokes, former senior assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at the Law School;

and Frank D. Kittredege, Jr., (Arch'78), founding principal and owner of the Bristol Group, Inc., and a senior principal with Bristol Group Mitretek in Austin, TX.

The Thurgood Marshall Research Professorship in Law, conceived and funded by more than 100 donors, is a milestone in the Law School's drive to retain and attract a strong and diverse faculty.

The professorship, backed by more than $1 million in gifts and pledges, honors James Thurgood Marshall, who sat on the Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991 as its first black justice. Before joining the Court, Justice Marshall served more than 20 years as director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. There he devised a strategy to pursue through the courts a definition of equality that assured African-Americans the full rights of citizenship.

Marshall's greatest legal victory came in 1954 with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared an end to the “separate but equal” system of racial segregation then in effect in the public schools of 21 states.

Justice Marshall, who died in 1993, spent much of his time and energy using the Constitution to remedy the nation’s history of racial inequality. The professorship is to be awarded to scholars of distinction whose work will further the honoree’s legacy, rotating as appropriate. The inaugural Thurgood Marshall Research Professor is Kim Forde-Mazrui, Professor of Law and Director of the Law School's Center for the Study of Race and Law (see related story).

The chair attracted broad support from more than 100 alumni, students, and friends of the Law School.

“This is your democracy…”

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall delivered the commencement address at the University’s Finals Ceremonies on May 21, 1978. Thurgood Marshall, Jr., was in that graduating class and later graduated from the Law School (1981). Justice Marshall’s speech is excerpted below.

The democratizing aspect of the Constitution cannot be overstated. For me, its cardinal principle is that all persons stand in a position of equality before the law. The Constitution gives each and every one of you an equal right to your own opinions and to participate in the process of your own governance. These are precious rights that we must continually strive to preserve, and whose promise we must seek to attain. There are still far too many persons in this country who cannot participate as equals in the processes of Government—persons too poor, too ignorant, persons discriminated against by other people for no good reason. But our ideal, the ideal of our Constitution, is to eliminate these barriers to the aspirations of all Americans to participate fully in our government and society. We have realized it far better than most countries, but we still have a long way to travel and we must continue to strive in that direction.…

Governments derive their power from many sources—the military or police are instruments of power and many in the short run enforce the government’s directives against an unwilling people. But authority is a different question—and no government can govern long, or well, without the authority that comes from a shared consensus among the governed. They must believe that theirs is a rightful, and lawful, and just government.

But in order to preserve this power in the people—the power of defining and limiting the authority of their government—it is first and foremost essential that the people be well informed.… [T]he duty to keep up,… to be knowledgeable in some area of human endeavor, is an essential one, not only for the continued survival of our government but in the long run for our civilization. It is hard work being well-informed; but it is essential work for the citizens of a democracy.…

Those of you here today about to use your degrees, it is for you now to undertake the projects of this age.… It is not for me to tell you what these are—each generation must find its own calling. But you have the energies of youth—and while you have them, use them, that you may look back on your lives with as much a sense of accomplishment as Jefferson no doubt did.…

Each of you as an individual must pick your own goals. Listen to others but do not become a blind follower. Do not wait for others to move out—move out yourself—where you see wrong or inequality or injustice speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy—make it—protect it—pass it on. You are ready. Go to it.

—Papers of the President (#RG-2/1/2.801), Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.

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