When Thurgood Marshall enrolled in 1925, Pennsylvania's Lincoln University was the most prestigious university for black men on the East Coast. At his mother's urging, Marshall first studied to be a dentist, but he had long dreamed of becoming a lawyer.

Marshall roomed with James Murphy, whose family owned the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper, and who would later take over the paper himself. Marshall also befriended classmate Langston Hughes, already a well-known poet.

Marshall was a boisterous and carefree student, active on the debate team and in his fraternity. His only goal during his first years was to do well enough in his studies to pass. He later said, "I graduated, managing to be on the honor list, even though I was the last one on there-but I made it."

During his final year at Lincoln, Marshall married University of Pennsylvania student Vivian "Buster" Burey, and his study habits improved. He set his sights firmly on one thing: attending law school.