Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) Biography » Robert L. Carter Biography - Prompted To Activism By Pool Ban, Forged Legal Fighting For Civil Rights, Laid Groundwork For Brown V. The Board Of Education

Robert L. Carter - Forged Legal Fighting For Civil Rights

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The fight for equal treatment for black Americans had remained on the back burner throughout World War II, but African-American soldiers who had fought for American ideals were not willing to settle back into second-class citizenship when they returned home. The civil rights movement was fueled in part by these veterans. Carter was at its forefront, and his career took off as the movement did.

In 1944 Carter joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund as a legal assistant to the famed civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall. Marshall would later become the first African American appointed as a justice on the United States Supreme Court. Though the two men would make history together in Brown vs. the Board of Education, they never became close. "I don't recall that Thurgood and I ever developed a personal friendship," Carter told the New York Times. Many civil rights historians point out that Carter was as vital to the Brown case as Marshall, yet had never received due credit. Carter shrugged those claims off, telling the New York Times, "I'm not one of those people to toot my horn well." He also pointed out the positive working relationship they shared. "Thurgood always wanted me to go for the outer edges of the law," Carter told the Boston Herald. "He kept me out of politics. But he let me have my say. He wouldn't let anyone shut me off. So if I stood up and argued, he would back me up." Carter was also proud to receive the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.

Carter served with the NAACP from 1944 until 1968. During that time he tried cases in every state of the former southern Confederacy. He won 21 of the 22 cases he presented before the U.S. Supreme Court. He helped defeat racism in colleges, labor unions, voting laws, housing, and hiring. According to a newsletter of the Organization of American Historians, Carter was a model for black youngsters who may never have seen an educated African-American professional stand up to white authority.

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