The loss of Cecilia “Cissy” Suyat Marshall is sincerely mourned by the Legal Defense Fund (LDF). The nation’s first Black Supreme Court Justice and wife of LDF’s founder, Thurgood Marshall, Ms. Marshall served on the organization’s board of directors for many years and was a persistent advocate for equal justice. On July 20, 1928, Cecilia “Cissy” Suyat was born in Pu’unene, Maui, in the state of Hawaii. She was 94 years old. In 1910, her parents left the Philippines. Her mother passed away while she was a little child, and her father had a printing business. She has a large family and was raised in Hawaii.
On the recommendation of her father, Suyat relocated to New York City to live with her maternal uncle and aunt before beginning employment with the NAACP in Washington, D.C.
Suyat first met Thurgood Marshall and later wed him in 1955 after Vivian Burey, Marshall’s first wife, passed away from lung cancer. Marshall and Suyat got hitched on December 17, 1955. At St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Harlem, New York, the service was led by Roy Wilkins, the NAACP’s secretary. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks visited them in their apartment.
The parents of Thurgood Marshall Jr. and John W. Marshall, a former Virginia secretary of public safety and director of the U.S. Marshals Service, are Suyat and Marshall. According to Juan Williams, Suyat put a lot of effort into hiding Marshall’s outbursts of “frustration with the conservative court and what was left of the Civil Rights Movement” in his final years out of fear they would make him seem bad
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