AP

Justice Thurgood Marshall’s wife ‘Cissy’ Marshall dies at 94

Nov 22, 2022, 12:14 AM | Updated: Nov 23, 2022, 8:54 am

FILE - Cecilia Marshall, widow of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, laughs while watching a ...

FILE - Cecilia Marshall, widow of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, laughs while watching a slide show about her husband during a meeting to rally support for renaming Baltimore-Washington International Airport after Thurgood Marshall, one of the state's most famous native sons and the first Black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, in Annapolis, Md., March 28, 2005. The Supreme Court says Cecilia "Cissy" Marshall has died. She was 94.(AP Photo/Matthew S. Gunby, File)

(AP Photo/Matthew S. Gunby, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cecilia “Cissy” Suyat Marshall, the wife of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall who worked alongside the civil rights champion at the NAACP, died Tuesday at the age of 94, the Supreme Court announced.

Marshall’s husband became the high court’s first Black justice in 1967 following a career as a civil rights lawyer in which he argued the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case that outlawed segregation in public schools. He retired from the high court in 1991 and died in 1993 at the age of 84.

Cecilia Suyat was born in Hawaii on July 20, 1928. She later moved to New York City and took night classes at Columbia University to become a stenographer. An employment office sent her in 1948 to work at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“The clerk, she saw my dark skin, and she sent me to the national office of the NAACP,” she said in a 2016 interview. “That is the only reason I can think of that she sent me to the NAACP for my first job. And to this day, I thank her, because had it not been for her, I wouldn’t have known anything about a race problem.”

Suyat, who was of Filipino descent, said that “having been born in the Hawaiian islands we never had that racial problems, and so working with the NAACP opened my eyes.”

It was also at the NAACP that she met her future husband. She worked on a variety of cases and was there for the case of the so-called Groveland Four, the four young Black men falsely accused of raping a white woman in Florida. She also helped take notes and type briefs as Marshall prepared for arguments in the Brown v. Board of education case, which was argued in 1952 and 1953.

In interviews later in life, she recalled the celebration after Brown was decided.

“I don’t know about you fools,” she recalled Marshall saying at some point during the festivities, “but I’m going back to work. Our work has just begun.”

Marshall’s first wife, Vivien Burey, died of cancer in 1955. He and Suyat married later that year. She left the NAACP after they wed.

But the marriage almost didn’t happen, she said, and not because of their 20-year age difference. She said many people still considered her to be “a foreigner,” and she worried about the reaction. “When Thurgood proposed I said, ‘No way,'” she recalled in 2013. She said he insisted: “I’m marrying you. I’m not marrying the country and they’re not marrying me.”

They had two sons, Thurgood Jr. and John. It wasn’t until just before Marshall joined the Supreme Court that the justices ruled in Loving v. Virginia that laws in 16 states barring interracial marriage could not stand.

In a statement, Chief Justice John Roberts called Cissy Marshall a a “vibrant and engaged member of the Court family” who regularly attended court events. “You wanted to sit next to her at any event,” he wrote. “She had an easy sense of humor that could be — in an appropriate setting, of course — a bit saucy.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who was a law clerk to Marshall, called Cissy Marshall a “marvelous woman” and wrote: “Every clerk to Justice Marshall received a sort of bonus: the steadfast friendship and support of his wife Cissy.”

The Supreme Court said funeral arrangements were pending. Thurgood Marshall was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington in a section of the cemetery where a number of other former justices were buried.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

moore redmond washington...

Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Redmond couple challenging foreign income tax

The court ruled in the case of Charles and Kathleen Moore, of Redmond, Washington after they previously challenged a $15,000 tax bill.

1 day ago

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

3 days ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

4 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

4 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

5 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

6 days ago

Justice Thurgood Marshall’s wife ‘Cissy’ Marshall dies at 94