Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 02/22/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/22/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

>Carl T. Rowan


SYNDICATED COLUMNIST ROWAN FIRST met Thurgood Marshall in 1953, when Marshall was in Minneapolis to give a speech on behalf of the NAACP Rowan, a young local reporter, and the hotshot civil rights lawyer hit it off immediately. "In those days you could count the blacks working for a daily newspaper on one hand," says Rowan, 67. "I was a conduit to millions of Americans, a conduit of trust for him." Rowan was often asked to sit in on the NAACP's private meetings, such as the preparations for the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case. And when Rowan visited Manhattan, he would often be invited to dinner at Cissy and Thurgood Marshall's home, with Thurgood proudly preparing his crab soup or "the best beef stew I ever tasted." The stew's secret ingredient: "More bourbon than you'd drink in a month!"

For all his irascible humor, Rowan says, "in the courtroom Marshall was an awesome figure; his rhetoric was amazing. Yet he knew the difference between the rhetoric of black manhood and the deeds of black manhood, and he dealt almost exclusively in deeds. This shows in the grueling travel he did in those segregationist days, working for next to nothing for the NAACR He was the essence of black pride, to the point of never admitting that anyone had beaten him or gotten him down. But in the continuing argument over whether blacks should go (or integration or separatism, to his credit he always said, I am going to be a part of this entire society and use the Constitution the way Moses used the tablets of stone and open up new opportunities.' "

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