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Thurgood Marshall Jr. Talks Civic Engagement at Norman and Florence Brody Family Foundation Public Policy Forum

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Thurgood Marshall Jr.

Students, faculty and community members from across the University of Maryland campus came to the Adele H. Stamp Student Union to hear Thurgood Marshall Jr. discuss civic engagement and leadership. Marshall was joined by UMD School of Public Policy Dean Robert C. Orr. 

Norman and Florence Brody Family Foundation Public Policy Professor Betty Duke started the evening by thanking the Brody family for their supporting and educating the audience about the history of the Brody Family Foundation Public Policy Forum. 

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh took the stage to open up the conversation about the state of the country and the role of civic engagement. “There has been a demographic revolution in this country,” Loh said. “Today, America is becoming a microcosm of the world.”

Loh said, “There is little civility in this country, very little ability to sympathize. When I go to bed every night, what I despair about is the future of American democracy. I ask myself, what is the role of a university?”

“I believe being American is not a spectator sport,” Loh added. “In order to go out and do good, we must also be good.”

I think this notion of respect and engaging with people is essential.

Marshall began his remarks by introducing the audience to his philosophy on civic engagement and leadership. “As someone who believes in building bridges, I was lucky enough to work for three senators who also believed in building bridges,” he said. “I think this notion of respect and engaging with people is essential.”

When Dean Orr asked Marshall to provide advice on building respect and trust in a world that is increasingly more virtual. “You gotta find a way to pull whoever you’re engaging with into a more personal interaction,” Marshall responded.

Later in the event, audience members were given the opportunity to ask Marshall and Orr questions about civic engagement and leadership in this country. A student asked both men for advice on being afraid to speak up when they see injustice. “When individuals are being discriminated against, that in itself is a signal that something is off,” Marshall said.

Orr said, “There are various conversations that are difficult to start, but we owe it to each other to start them.”

You can watch the video from this event on the School of Public Policy YouTube account and photos on the SPP Flickr account.

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