Thurgood Marshall legal documents to be gifted to law school - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Thurgood Marshall legal documents to be gifted to law school

Smith County is looking into options of digitizing documents from a case involving Thurgood Marshall when he was legal director of the NAACP. (Source: KLTV Staff) Smith County is looking into options of digitizing documents from a case involving Thurgood Marshall when he was legal director of the NAACP. (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Documents housed in Smith County dating back decades to a case tried by the then-NAACP Legal Director Thurgood Marshall will soon be gifted to the law school that is named after him. Smith County Commissioners were told about the documents Tuesday in their regular meeting.

The documents are from a civil case tried in the 7th District Court in Smith County where the State of Texas, represented by then-Attorney General and Gladewater native John Ben Shepperd was suing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, represented by their legal director, Thurgood Marshall.

The State of Texas argued since the NAACP did not pay franchise taxes and was not properly permitted in the state, they were not allowed to operate. The suit was filed in Smith County on September 21, 1956, a few years after the landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education was decided before the Supreme Court of the United States. 

It is unknown why Smith County was chosen as the site where the case was heard. The NAACP was also represented by local civil rights attorney William J. Durham. Durham, a Sulphur Springs native, was involved in more than forty civil rights cases, according to records from the Texas State Historical Association.

Shepperd reportedly considered his efforts to restrict the activity of the NAACP in Texas as one of his greatest accomplishments, according to the TSHA.

The collection of records stored in the Smith County Records Department contains court filings along with correspondence between the legal teams involved. 

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