Thurgood Marshall Gave FBI Information In 1950S

WASHINGTON - The late Thurgood Marshall, the first black member of the Supreme Court and a towering civil-rights leader, began giving the FBI information about the movement in the 1950s despite his outspoken criticism of the bureau, USA Today reported today.

Marshall passed along information about a dissident NAACP leader in North Carolina and about other civil-rights leaders who were advocating violence in the state, according to a June 4, 1959, memo from the FBI's New York office.

Marshall, onetime head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, also gave the FBI advance warning about an upcoming NAACP convention vote on a resolution critical of the Justice Department, according to a 1956 memo from a file the FBI kept on him.

The file became available for release under the Freedom of Information Act after Marshall, who served on the court from 1967 to 1991, died in 1993 at age 84.

The FBI took three years to review the file before releasing copies over the weekend.

Marshall's son, Thurgood Marshall Jr., who received an advance copy of the file, said that documents indicating a cooperative relationship between his father and J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director, were an "ironic twist" in light of their earlier animosity.

In a 1961 review of Marshall's file, one FBI official noted that after years of "unfounded" criticism of the bureau in the 1940s, Marshall "conferred with the bureau on several occasions in connection with his efforts to combat communist attempts to infiltrate the (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)."

Informants had linked Marshall with the National Lawyer's Guild, then viewed as a communist front, and he was pictured getting a check from an American Communist Party official to fight "Jim Crow" laws.

The FBI file suggests that while Marshall publicly criticized the FBI before becoming a federal appeals court judge in 1961, he maintained a private relationship friendly enough to keep Hoover from unleashing on Marshall his feared power to destroy reputations, the newspaper said.