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Showing posts from February, 2014


A special friend gave us a memento that we keep in a special place in our home.  It is a small stone that reads, “Friends are our chosen family.”  As I write this, appropriately on Valentine’s Day, I think about close friends of mine and the lifelong friendship of two extraordinary men whose lives I wish to acknowledge as we celebrate Black History Month. The two men are Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Attorney Wiley A. Branton, Sr., who was also my father-in-law.

Thurgood and Wiley’s friendship began in the mid-1950s when Wiley was a young lawyer in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Thurgood was a lawyer in NYC, working for the NAACP. Wiley was a local lawyer who was asked to handle cases in the South when the NAACP could not send a lawyer from New York to handle the case.

This was the beginning of a life-long friendship that solidified during their work on Supreme Court case, Cooper v. Aaron, also known as “The Little Rock Nine.”

Wiley, as Chief Counsel, asked Thurgood …