Background Information


The Life and Legacy of Thurgood Marshall

In 1925, an outgoing and strong-willed young man enrolled in Lincoln University of Pennsylvania. Tenacious, skillful, and persuasive, the young man quickly became the university’s star debater. After graduating cum laude with distinction, he enrolled in the Howard University Law School, where he graduated at the top of his class in 1933. At that time, no one could have predicted that in 1967, Thurgood Marshall would become the first African-American Justice of the United States Supreme Court.


Justice Marshall’s commitment to education began as a young lawyer fighting the State of Maryland for equal pay for black school teachers who were receiving the same salary as janitors. Throughout his career, Thurgood Marshall worked within the legal system to make his vision of equal access to education a reality through precedent-setting court cases.  In  Brown vs. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court struck down the “Separate but Equal” doctrine, thus ending legalized segregation of educational institutions.

After winning a difficult racial discrimination case against the University of Maryland, Thurgood Marshall declared, "We're in the education business!" It is this legacy and commitment to education that is the foundation of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund's (TMCF’s) vision: “Changing the World…One Leader at a Time.”

About the Thurgood Marshall College Fund

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), formerly the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, is named for the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African-American Justice. It was established in 1987 under the leadership of Dr. N. Joyce Payne in cooperation with Miller Brewing Co., Sony Music, the NBA, Reebok, and the American Association for State Colleges and Universities. TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending our 47-member schools, which include public Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). TMCF’s work is critical to guaranteeing our country a robust and diverse pipeline of talented workers and future leaders. TMCF achieves its vision of Changing the World . . . One Leader at a Time by focusing on three areas: Scholarships, Capacity Building & Programmatic Support, and Public Policy & Advocacy.

TMCF is the only national organization to provide merit scholarships, programmatic and capacity building support to 47 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs). To date, TMCF has provided nearly $100 million in scholarships, programmatic and capacity building support to students and member schools. 

TMCF- member schools are a critical source of higher education for all students. More than 80% of all students enrolled in HBCUs and PBIs attend TMCF-member schools.