In 1966, leaders from the National Bar Association conferred with President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Cabinet Room of the White House regarding the need to increase the number of black Federal judges.
In anticipation of our visit and being sensitive, as well as sympathetic, President Johnson nominated seven Blacks to federal judgeships. At the meeting, the President patted Thurgood Marshall on the back and announced these prophetic words:
I want to be the president who will nominate the first Blacks to the United States Supreme Court.
That opportunity came within a year. On June 13, 1967, President Johnson followed through and made history with then U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Thurgood Marshall, nominating him for a seat on America’s highest court after the retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Tom C. Clark. After a vote of 69-11, Marshall became the first African-American to be appointed a Supreme Court Justice.
Said President Johnson of the appointment:
I believe he earned his appointment. He deserves the appointment. He’s the best qualified by training and by very valuable service to the country. I believe it’s the right thing to do, the right time to do it, the right man, and the right place.