US civil rights champion dies

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON (Reuter) - Thurgood Marshall, a leading fighter for civil rights who became the first black to sit on the US Supreme Court, died yesterday of heart failure at Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington. He had been in failing health for several years and cited that as the reason for his retirement from the Supreme Court in June 1991.

Marshall, 84, led the fight as a lawyer before the Supreme Court in the 1950s to abolish racial segregation in American schools. In 1954 he persuaded the Supreme Court to outlaw 'separate but equal' treatment of the races.

Marshall was supposed to swear in Al Gore as US Vice-President at the inauguration ceremony last Wednesday but was unable to do so because of his poor health.