Rockland roadway renamed to honor Justice Thurgood Marshall

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A prominent roadway in Rockland County has a new name to honor late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall - a man who started a local movement that now affects millions of students nationwide.
Route 17 is a 400-mile stretch of state highway, crossing from New York's western corner to Suffern. In Hillburn, it's now the Justice Thurgood Marshall Memorial Highway.

The new sign went up Friday to honor the former NAACP attorney who helped desegregate Hillburn's two elementary schools in 1943. That's 11 years before a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case desegregated all public schools nationwide.

Travis Jackson, 85, was a fourth grader at Hillburn's ramshackle Brook School when Marshall made it possible for him to attend the village's better all-white school.

That in turn, says Jackson, allowed him to get the education that transformed his life.

Because of Justice Marshall and his fight, African American students were eventually allowed to attend Hillburn's main school. It’s now a school administration building, but Justice Marshall's legacy will never be forgotten.

Marshall, a Baltimore native, became the first African American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, but his legacy was born in Hillburn. Joe Allen produced the documentary "Two Schools in Hillburn" about Marshall's movement.

Rockland County will also honor Thurgood Marshall next year with a life-sized black marble statue of the justice outside the old County Courthouse in New City.


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