A series of short primers on legal principles and racial justice by the experts at LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute.


The team at the Thurgood Marshall Institute, the research and advocacy arm of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, has been thinking long and hard about how we can further add to a critical part of LDF’s longstanding mission: educating and empowering the public. We have consistently heard that people want to learn directly from the Institute’s lawyers, policy experts, fellows, and organizers. Thurgood Marshall Institute Briefs (“TMI Briefs”)—a series of short digital pieces on topics related to the law, race, and public policy—is how we are rising to meet that challenge.


From our historic courtroom wins to our place-based advocacy and organizing work, pursuit of dignity and equality under the law for African Americans have guided everything LDF does. Using plain language, TMI Briefs will shed light on the foundations of this work: educating readers about the evolution of, and continued need for, racial justice advocacy. The series will explain the importance of events, political trends, and public policy decisions that are key to understanding the state of our nation today.


Affirmative action, the Voting Rights Act, racial gerrymandering, Section 1983 litigation, redlining, qualified immunity, stop-and-frisk, you name it — TMI’s experts will break down the concepts and doctrines that you may have heard of, but might not know well. We’re a group of wonks and lawyers, so we’ll lean heavily on written pieces — but we’ll also experiment with graphics, multimedia, and even some gems from LDF’s Archives.


As we wind down our year-long celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment, and because so much of our work is rooted in the Constitution’s promise of equality, we thought we’d kick off TMI Briefs with a set of primers on this critical Amendment — a provision of the Constitution that we hear about all the time, but that deserves a closer look. We’ll explain the key clauses of the amendment and how they opened the door to the social progress we’ve seen since ratification.


We’ve entered a time where many of the building blocks underpinning our work for racial justice are being questioned or actively undermined. We hope that TMI Briefs will be an easy and accessible way for our team at the Thurgood Marshall Institute to help inform the national debate, revive our history, and help the public remember how far we must still go in our quest to realize the ideals for which Thurgood Marshall and the advocates he led fought.


The Thurgood Marshall Institute Team