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Aug. 20—A mural dedicated this week in McAlester presents an opportunity for reflection.
Chandler Watson, an Oklahoma City-based artist, completed a mural honoring Thurgood Marshall that was dedicated this week at a McAlester law office. The vibrant red and orange painting include a quote from one of the civil rights figure's many successful arguments in landmark US Supreme Court decisions fitting for the mural.
"The First Amendment serves not only the needs of the polity but also those of the human spirit — a spirit that demands self-expression," it says.
Those words should inspire us in using self-expression and remind us that not only do we have that right granted through the First Amendment — so do our neighbors.
Thurgood Marshall was a giant in defending the rights of those who weren't afforded them.
He was America's first Black Supreme Court Justice and served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from October 1967 until October 1991. He died in 1993.
Marshall graduated from the Howard University School of Law in 1933 before successfully arguing several cases before the Supreme Court.
Brown v. Board of Education is the landmark US Supreme Court decision ruling racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional on May 17, 1954. Smith v. Allwright is another landmark decision that overturned Texas state law that authorized parties to set internal rules that included the use of white primaries. Shelley v. Kraemer is the landmark case that struck down racially restrictive housing.
This is only a sampling of the major cases in which Marshall impacted positive change for our country through the Supreme Court.
Brecken Wagner said the idea for the mural came as he and law partner Blake Lynch discussed ways to help beautify the city. They previously donated resources to place a roundabout near the post office in McAlester.
The mural provokes critical thinking about the meaning of freedom and should remind people about Marshall's work toward progress in civil rights.
We applaud the dedication of the mural and hope it inspires our community toward unity.
—McAlester News-Capital Editorial Board