It's glibly said that if you can remember anything about the '60s, you weren't really there.
Not quite true.
Many recall the '60s as an era of advancement in civil rights.
For one thing, Thurgood Marshall was named the first black justice of the Supreme Court in 1967.
Author Will Haygood has written a book titled, "Showdown, Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America."
Haygood, a former Boston Globe reporter who spoke several years ago at the Newburyport Literary Festival, also wrote "The Butler" which was made into a motion picture.
Marshall was born in Baltimore, in 1908.
He was the great-grandson of a slave who was born in the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo; his grandfather was also a slave.
His original name was Thoroughgood, but was eventually shortened to Thurgood in second grade because he disliked spelling it.
His father, William Marshall, who was a railroad porter, and his mother Norma, a teacher, instilled in him an appreciation for the United States Constitution and the rule of law.
He went to Lincoln University, and later was among the first to desegregate the University of Maryland Law School.
Haygood reports that Marshall litigated many crucial cases in the South in the '40s and '50s.
He was the key counsel and strategist for the Brown vs. the Board of Education (1954) case, which led the way for desegregated public schools, or, "separate but equal is inherently unequal."
Much of Haywood's book focuses on the opposition to Marshall's nomination, primarily by southern senators.
The book also notes that well into the '50s and '60s, white supremacists generated mob murder in the South.
Haygood writes that the NAACP headquarters in midtown Manhattan in that era had a flag displayed out their office window after leaders would learn of mob violence:"Yesterday a black American was lynched."
Progress was difficult to achieve, even at the highest levels.
One of the most heated disputes that Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt had between each other in the late '30s was based on the president's reluctance to push anti-lynching legislation. "Eleanor, if I do that I will lose ever Southern senator for my other bills."
Marshall served on the Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991.
He died in 1993.
Haygood's book revisits a time when blacks were overtly second-class citizens - a condition that Marshall helped to reverse.