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Thurgood was filmed in front of a live audience at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater in Washington, D.C. during Black History Month, and aired exclusively on HBO. The one-man play stars Laurence Fishburne in his Tony-nominated performance as Thurgood Marshall, the remarkable Civil Rights lawyer and Supreme Court Justice. Thurgood was written by Academy Award and Emmy Award winner George Stevens, Jr., directed by Emmy Award winner Michael Stevens, and executive produced by Bill Haber.
Thurgood is the dazzling fusion of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and actor Laurence Fishburne, who demonstrates the kind of charisma he hasn't shown since playing Ike Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It? This filming of Fishburne's one-man Broadway show is half charming character portrait, half wry but galvanizing history lesson. Growing up in the era of racist Jim Crow laws, Marshall had initial ambitions to be a dentist, but constant exposure to injustice led him to the law. He arrived at Howard University as a new dean set out to transform the academy into a top law school. Marshall rose to the challenges he was given and became a lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), turning the "separate but equal" doctrine against the institutions that used it as an excuse to deny black applicants. He repeatedly risked his life fighting for voting rights and individual justice in the South, nearly being lynched at one point. He lost a challenge to segregation at the state level, but pursued it to the Supreme Court, experiencing his greatest moment of truth arguing before the justices--twice. The stage production makes use of lighting effects, sound effects, and projections, but these are mere window-dressing; this powerful story is driven by Fishburne, whose resonant voice, subtle sideways looks, deep humor, and sheer intelligence ably convey the mind of one of the great American jurists. --Bret Fetzer