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Legal scholar explores Thurgood Marshall’s legacy

Mary Dudziak

Professor Mary Dudziak recently gave a talk titled “Exporting American Dreams:  Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey” as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by the Drake Constitutional Law Center.

Dudziak is the Judge Edward J. and Rudy L. Guirado professor of law, history and political science at the University of Southern California Law School.

Her talk focused on the life of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and a famous civil rights lawyer. Marshall was the lead lawyer in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, which declared that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

In particular, Dudziak examined Justice Marshall’s important role in the negotiations and drafting of the constitution of the African country of Kenya, during the period when it was becoming independent. Marshall was the only private citizen to sit at the negotiating table where the Kenyan nationalists and leaders of the British colonial regime discussed the fate of the nation. He played an instrumental role in ensuring that the new nation had a Bill of Rights.

Dudziak also explained in detail some of the more controversial political incidents that occurred in Kenya during this period. In addition, she noted that principles of constitutional law have now traversed the world. The event was well attended by students and faculty.

“In this age of globalization, it was great for students to be exposed to a history lesson about earlier ways in which the rule of law also crossed boundaries,” said professor Mark Kende, director of the Drake Constitutional Law Center.