REPORT: Widow of Supreme Court Justice, civil rights activist dies at 94

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The widow of former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black man to serve on the court, died Tuesday, according to a statement from the court. She was 94.

Cecilia Suyat Marshall, who was known as “Cissy,” was also a civil rights activist and worked as a stenographer for the NAACP for seven years, from 1948 to 1955. She also volunteered at a church and served on boards for the Supreme Court Historical Society, a nonprofit that works to preserve the history of the court, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

She was born on July 20, 1928, in Pu’unene, Maui, in Hawaii, which was a U.S. territory at the time. She married Thurgood Marshall, then the leader of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, on Dec. 17, 1955, one year after he successfully argued that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s statement that Cissy Marshall was a “vibrant and engaged member of the Court family.”

He added, “She was warm and gracious and caring. You wanted to sit next to her at any event. She had an easy sense of humor that could be –– in an appropriate setting, of course — a bit saucy. She was special, and all of us at the Court will miss her greatly.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who served as a clerk for Thurgood Marshall, wrote, “She was a marvelous woman, and we all loved and admired her. The community of [Thurgood Marshall] clerks will today feel a great loss.”

Legal Defense Fund tweeted Tuesday, “Cecilia ‘Cissy’ Marshall, a former NAACP legal secretary who safeguarded the reputation and legacy of her late husband, LDF founder Thurgood Marshall, died today. She was 94. Cecilia Suyat Marshall had a front-row seat to the exhaustive preparation for the Brown v. Board of Education trial, traveled the South with NAACP staff, and met with the many local people who gave the civil rights movement strength.”

SCOTUS blog tweeted, “Cecilia (Cissy) Suyat Marshall, the widow of Thurgood Marshall, died this morning at 94. Here is the court’s announcement.”

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