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Thurgood Marshall’s “Argument Before the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education”

Brown v. Board of Education is one of the most defining court decisions in American History.  Representing the NAACP, Thurgood Marshall delivered the argument that lead to this huge feat. Read an excerpt below:

….I got the feeling on hearing the discussion yesterday that when you put a white child in a school with a whole lot of colored children, the child would fall apart or something. Everybody knows that is not true.

Those same kids in Virginia and South Carolina-and I have seen them do it-they play in the streets together, they play on their farms together, they go down the road together, they separate to go to school, they come out of school and play ball together. They have to be separated in school.

There is some magic to it. You can have them voting together, you can have them not restricted because of law in the houses they live in. You can have them going to the same state university and the same college, but if they go to elementary and high school, the world will fall apart. And it is the exact same argument that has been made to this Court over and over again, and we submit that when they charge us with making a legislative argument, it is in truth they who are making the legislative argument.

Mary McLeod Bethune’s  “What Does American Democracy Mean to Me?”

Bethune gave her infamous speech on the NBC radio show “America’s Town Meeting of the Air” on November 23, 1939 where she answered the question, “What Does American Democracy Mean to Me?”. See an excerpt below:

Democracy is for me, and for 12 million black Americans, a goal towards which our nation is marching. It is a dream and an ideal in whose ultimate realization we have a deep and abiding faith. For me, it is based on Christianity, in which we confidently entrust our destiny as a people. Under God’s guidance in this great democracy, we are rising out of the darkness of slavery into the light of freedom. Here my race has been afforded [the] opportunity to advance from a people 80 percent illiterate to a people 80 percent literate; from abject poverty to the ownership and operation of a million farms and 750,000 homes; from total disfranchisement to participation in government; from the status of chattels to recognized contributors to the American culture.

Read the entire speech here.

10 Speeches That Shifted Society  was originally published on

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