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Sons of Civil Rights Pioneers to Share Insights on Their Fathers' Contributions

Two of America’s most distinguished civil rights figures-the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and the late Charles Hamilton Houston-changed the nation. For the first time, their sons will, together, discuss the remarkable contributions of their fathers.

Living Legends: An Afternoon with John Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston, Jr., will bring Marshall and Houston together for a historic conversation about the crucial roles their fathers held in achieving a civil rights revolution that transformed the United States and guaranteed equal justice for all.

“It’s truly a historic event to have John and Charles here to talk about how their fathers really changed the landscape in terms of abolishing the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine, which had allowed segregation to continue in the United States until those two lawyers dismantled it,” said Ken Gormley, interim dean of the law school and coordinator of the Living Legends program.

Presented by Duquesne University’s School of Law to commemorate Black History Month, Living Legends will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 3 p.m. in the Power Center Ballroom. It is free and open to the public.

The Living Legends event will kick off with a 15-minute film about the achievements of Marshall and Houston, introduced and narrated by their sons. The film will be donated to the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site in Topeka, Kan. Following the screening, Gormley will moderate the discussion between John Marshall, the youngest son of Thurgood Marshall, and Charles Hamilton Houston Jr., Houston’s only child.

John Marshall most recently served as secretary of public safety for Virginia Governors Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. In 1999, he was appointed as the first African-American director of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Charles Hamilton Houston, Jr., a 1968 graduate of Duquesne University, is a historian and a lecturer who has spent much of his career studying the advancement of racial justice in the United States.

For more information and to register, visit www.duq.edu/law/living-legends/.

About Charles Hamilton Houston

Although his efforts went largely unrecognized until after his death, Charles Hamilton Houston was a trailblazer early in his career. The first black editor of the Harvard Law Review, Houston was admitted to the bar in 1924 and is credited with shaping Howard University Law School into a significant institution during his tenure as vice dean. It was there where he taught and mentored Thurgood Marshall. As special counsel to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Houston argued several significant civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including one in which Houston argued it was unconstitutional for Missouri to exclude African-Americans from the state’s university law school.

About Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall, who is regarded as one of the greatest civil rights lawyers, is most well known for successfully arguing Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court. The landmark case declared racial segregation in American public schools unconstitutional. Marshall worked as a staff lawyer for Houston at the NAACP and quickly became the lead chair in the organization’s legal office. He won 29 of 32 cases that he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Among them were cases in which the court declared unconstitutional a southern state’s exclusion of African-American voters from primary elections, state judicial enforcement of racial “restrictive covenants” in housing, and “separate but equal” facilities for African-American professionals and graduate students in state universities. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson named Marshall U.S. solicitor general. He was nominated and confirmed as the nation’s first African-American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967, a post Marshall held until his retirement in 1991.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.