Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall and the Constitution of Kenya


ACLS Fellowship Program




This is a study of transnational constitutional influences and the personal journey of a leading figure in American law. In 1960, civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall aided African nationalists in negotiations on an independence constitution for Kenya. He played an influential role in a conference held by the British government to draft a Kenya constitution, writing a draft a bill of rights, and focusing especially on minority rights and property rights. This study explores both Marshall’s involvement in Kenya, and the role of constitutionalism in Kenya’s transition to independence. In this transnational environment, region Marshall did not simply transplant American norms. Instead, he brought a forward-looking vision of what he hoped someday to achieve in America.