(Albany, NY) — Today Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed Senator David Carlucci’s and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee’s bill (S.521-A/A.5939) into law, naming a portion of State Route 17 in the Village of Hillburn as the “Justice Thurgood Marshall Memorial Highway.”
Before entering the Supreme Court, in 1943, as lead counsel for the NAACP, Marshall came to Hillburn to fight school segregation. Marshall won the case, desegregating the Brook School for black children and the Main School for white children with the help of parents and local activists. The case predated the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education which ruled separate is not equal, by more than a decade and would lead New York to be one of the first State’s to integrate schools.
Senator David Carlucci said, “By signing this bill into law, Governor Cuomo has solidified that Justice Thurgood Marshall will always be remembered for starting his fight to desegregate schools in Rockland County. The decision predated the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education by more than a decade, and we are proud to honor this historic feat. Now the route taken by Marshall, while fighting for equality, can always be followed.”
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee said, “Thank you Governor Cuomo for signing my bill to commemorate the distinguished career of Justice Thurgood Marshall and his significance to the civil rights movement in our history. Justice Marshall’s work to serve the whole and not the few is an example to all of us. It is my honor to have advocated for his memory to have a permanent place in Rockland County and the State of New York.”
In June 1967, Marshall became the first African-American Supreme Court Justice and held the position for 24 years, until 1991. Prior to the Supreme Court, he was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson as the first African-American United States Solicitor General. Marshall founded and was the executive director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and attended Howard University Law School, where he graduated first in his class. Marshall was denied entry into the University of Maryland Law School because the school was still segregated at the time.