The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Jan. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062912510.
Gr 1-4–Explaining court cases and constitutional law to children can be a daunting task, but this title effectively describes Thurgood Marshall’s accomplishments. Freeman’s digital illustrations feature lifelike images and bold symbols to create beautiful collages that represent important topics and themes. Details from Marshall’s childhood, including discussions at the dinner table about segregation and unfair laws, demonstrate the start of his journey. Attending Lincoln University and Howard University Law School, both historically Black universities, prepared Marshall for his life’s work. It also propelled him to try to change laws that limited Black people’s choices. Throughout his academic and professional career, Marshall faced a series of challenges from people who sought to restrict others’ rights. Marshall argued and won seven cases before the Supreme Court, including Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. His work as an appellate judge and U.S. solicitor general affirmed his legal capabilities and led to his appointment as the first Black person to serve on the Supreme Court. The narrative features some information about his personal life, such as his first wife’s death from cancer and his second marriage to a Filipina woman, which was controversial at the time because interracial marriage was still illegal in some states. This title uses a different tone and covers different events than Marshall, Jonah Winter and Bryan Collier’s 2019 picture book biography. Both provide worthwhile examinations of Marshall’s legacy.
VERDICT Libraries will want this title, which celebrates a significant historical figure.

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