I grew up watching The Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger, and Superman on television. The Cisco Kid featured two Mexicans or maybe two Mexican-Americans righting wrongs and helping people. The Lone Ranger was an ex-Texas Ranger and his “faithful Indian companion” Tonto protecting people from the bad guys. Superman was an alien who fought for “truth, justice, and the American Way.” I’ve always tried to follow in the footsteps of these early heroes. America often falls short in the battle for truth, justice, and the American Way, but this is because people fall short in the delivery of what America could be and should be.
Last night I re-watched the film Marshall. I first saw the movie last year. The film gives us a view of an early court case of Thurgood Marshall, an American hero, who later served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from October 1967 until October 1991.
“Starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, and James Cromwell. Director Reginald Hudlin’s Marshall, is based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It follows the young lawyer (Chadwick Boseman) to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) charged with sexual assault and attempted murder of his white socialite employer (Kate Hudson). Muzzled by a segregationist court, Marshall partners with a courageous young Jewish lawyer, Samuel Friedman (Josh Gad). Together they mount the defense in an environment of racism and Anti-Semitism. The high profile case and the partnership with Friedman served as a template for Marshall’s creation of the NAACP legal defense fund.” – rottentomatoes.com/m/marshall
The only scene I found issue with was the short scene in a night club. It seemed like the only reason for the scene was to show Marshall rubbing shoulders with authors Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. These writers worked together on the play Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life. But I forgave the use of the scene because Andra Day opened the scene performing Trouble In Mind. I had never heard that song played before. I have been playing it on the piano for fifty some years, but I did enjoy the slightly more upbeat rendition.
Download a FREE copy of Mule Bone – publicdoman.com/MuleBone.pdf
The premise of the movie is ironic. Thurgood Marshall, as “the” attorney for the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in the early 1940s is fighting for the rights of colored people. The NAACP was formed in 1909 to advance justice for African Americans. The organization was founded by W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington, Moorfield Storey, Ida B. Wells and others. 4,084 African-Americans were lynched between 1877 and 1950 in the South. Most African-American lynching victims were accused of murder or attempted murder with rape or attempted rape the second most common charge. The film is ironic because during the late 1930s and early 1940s most of the free world was fighting fascists abroad who would enslave, demean, and murder people they thought were less human and beneath them.
“Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.” – Wikipedia
The work that Marshall and the NAACP accomplished was the battle for truth, justice and the America Way . . . for all of us. Many people still do not understand that we are all the same people. Our world is constantly changing. People have been moving around the globe for hundreds of thousands of years. We may look different, but that is all.
What I really enjoyed about the movie was the way both Marshall and Friedman used actions that connected with the jury, even if they did not always win the day. In an earlier case, Marshall didn’t just mention that the defendant had a confession beaten out of him. He took the club that had been used and slammed it down repeatedly on an open book right before the jury’s eyes. The sound and the action told much more than simple words. Friedman in his summation to the jury, used a fountain pen to drip black ink into a glass of water as an illustration of the prosecution’s strategy of clouding the issues and the truth.
Many people take issue with the story line of Marshall working with Jewish attorney Sam Friedman. I love the choice of Josh Gad as the reluctant white attorney. Like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, defending a black person in court was not a step on the road to love, admiration, and riches, but it is part of truth, justice, and the American Way.
Marshall, like The Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger, and Superman all worked to make our world a better place. A place where we all have the same rights and protections.