BOSTON--Two Harvard, Law School professors praised the personal qualities of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to a crowd of 400 yesterday at Fanueil Hall.
Law School Professors Scott Brewer and Carol Steiker, both former law clerks in Marshall's office, praised his ability to remain in touch with ordinary people.
"He naturally understood the position of the outsider, the underdog," Steiker said. "And he gave that position his powerful voice."
The keynote speaker, Anthony Lewis '48 of The New York Times, lauded similar qualities in Marshall.
"[Marshall] brought the abstract thinking of his colleagues down to earth," he said.
Lewis also stressed the importance of Marshall's work to American society. Asking the audience to consider Marshall's influence on landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, Lewis said, "This would be a different America if Thurgood Marshall had not lived."
Julian T. Houston, a Massachusetts Superior Court justice, was master of ceremonies at the service.
"[Marshall] was a blunt man, a funny man, a man of great color," said Houston in his opening remarks.
Folk singer Odetta performed several times, as did the Twelfth Baptist Church Chorale. The service was further enhanced with readings from Marshall's opinions.
Kermit G. Mitchell, a graduate from the Harvard Business School, noted "diverse sections of the community" represented in the crowd. "It was interesting to see both young and old people here, because [Marshall's] life touched both," he said.
City Councillor Bruce C. Bolling found the event "a very moving tribute."
"It really exemplified his love for humanity and seeking equal treatment for everyone," Bolling said.
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