Maryland judicial and legislative leaders will celebrate on Oct. 17 the recent renaming of the state law library in memory of civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall, the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice and a Maryland native.
Mary Ellen Barbera, the state’s top jurist — who lobbied legislators for the name change this year — will lead the mid-afternoon ceremony in Annapolis at the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building, which houses the Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, the state judiciary announced Tuesday.
Barbera, chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, regularly invokes Marshall as a leading light of the Maryland bar when she welcomes newly admitted attorneys.
Also in attendance will be retired Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, the first African American to hold that post and a former client of Marshall’s.
Marshall argued unsuccessfully before the Maryland Court of Appeals on behalf of Bell and his fellow black Dunbar High School students who had been convicted of trespassing in the early 1960s after they refused to leave Hooper’s Restaurant in Baltimore when they were denied service because of their race. The U.S. Supreme Court later vacated the convictions in light of Maryland’s subsequently enacted public accommodations law.
According to the judiciary, others expected at the the renaming ceremony include:
- Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George’s, Charles and Calvert;
- Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, D-Baltimore County;
- Sen. J.J. Peters, D-Prince George’s, chief Senate sponsor of the renaming legislation;
- Del. Ronald L. Watson, D-Prince George’s, the chief House sponsor of the law that went into effect July 1;
- Marshall biographer Larry Gibson, a University of Maryland law professor and the author of “Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice” (2012, Prometheus Books); and
- Steven Anderson, director of the Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library.
Marshall died in 1993 at age 84.