My fellow Terrapins,
To know where the University of Maryland is headed, we have to understand the evolution of our campus and the progress made by Terps before us. That is the spark of the idea that inspired the TerrapinSTRONG onboarding program, creating a shared understanding among the nearly 30,000 Terps who have now completed it.
Carving names of trailblazers into the landscape of our campus is one way that we pursue inclusive excellence. Today, we take that progress a step further and announce the name of our newest academic building on campus and home to the School of Public Policy: Thurgood Marshall Hall.
A legacy of transformationMore than 70 years ago, two young men were among many who were denied admission to our university based on the color of their skin: Parren Mitchell and Hiram Whittle. These names are likely familiar to you, as each of their names have since been engraved in buildings on our campus - a concrete reminder of their contributions to Maryland.
With the help of the gifted, brilliant and inimitable civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall, a team of lawyers, and the NAACP, Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Whittle successfully sued the University of Maryland. These historic cases broke down the barriers of segregation and threw open doors for Parren, Hiram and thousands of students after them to attend the University of Maryland. Black students celebrated a step toward justice, but braced for ongoing battles for equity and acceptance.
Parren in 1950 became the first Black student to take graduate classes on the College Park campus, and a year later, Hiram enrolled as our first Black undergraduate student. Their fight to desegregate our campus forever changed the course of our university for the better.
Through his career as a civil rights lawyer and U.S. Supreme Court justice, Marshall used the power of the judiciary to fight racism and discrimination, offering stability and opportunity to the most vulnerable in our nation. He is the embodiment of bringing people together for constructive dialogue in the pursuit of the public good. He is a reminder of our past, and our progress. We are thrilled to have the blessing of his family in honoring him through the continued pursuit of knowledge and justice.
Dedicated to the public goodCongratulations to Dean Robert Orr and the faculty and staff of our School of Public Policy on this tremendous distinction. Your commitment to changing the world through policy is greatly valued by us all.
On this momentous day, we draw upon the words of Justice Marshall: "Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on."
The addition of Thurgood Marshall's name on our campus is a symbol of our dedication to serving the public good. We will protect it, and pass it on.