ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Supporters of a bill to rename Baltimore-Washington International Airport after Thurgood Marshall brought the widow of the lawyer and civil rights activist to Annapolis Monday to put pressure on the state Senate to approve the bill.
''I think it's important to keep his name up there so people will remember his legacy,'' Cecilia Marshall said. Despite her late husband's achievements in bringing an end to legal segregation in the United States, ''there's so much work left to be done,'' she said.
The House has approved the bill to rename the airport the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport, but it has run into trouble in the Senate, where some members think the name change would hurt the state's efforts to market the airport as a gateway to Washington as well as Baltimore.
Sen. Paula Hollinger, D-Baltimore, chairwoman of the committee that will consider the bill in the Senate, said Monday she doesn't know what will happen in her committee.
''I have an open mind,'' she said.
''I think we should name something major for him,'' Hollinger said. But she said it might be more appropriate to name something related to the court system to honor his achievements as a lawyer and the first black justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Delegate Emmett Burns, D-Baltimore County, sponsor of the bill, said supporters will not settle for anything less than naming the airport after a man they said is a state and national hero.
''We are told we may lose the competitive edge if we put the name Thurgood Marshall on the marquee. Isn't that strange?'' Burns said at a rally held prior to the evening sessions of the Senate and House of Delegates. ''They didn't stop flying into Reagan National'' when the airport serving the nations' capital was renamed to honor the former president, he said.
Senate President V. Mike Miller has suggested there might be more appropriate ways to honor Marshall, such as naming a law school after him.
Marshall is a native of Baltimore who gained national renowned when he helped argue the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court declaring that school segregation was unconstitutional. He was a federal judge and solicitor general of the United States before he was appointed to the Supreme Court.
Two statues have been erected to honor Marshall, one in Annapolis outside the State House and one near the federal courthouse in Baltimore.
The Burns bill would have Maryland follow the example set by some southern states in naming airports after black leaders.
Mississippi's largest airport is named in honor of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, and New Orleans renamed its airport the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport after the famous musician in 2001.
Two years ago, Atlanta's City Council voted to honor the city's first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, by renaming the city's airport Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, incorporating Jackson's name with that of a former mayor, William B. Hartsfield.
Burns described Marshall as an American icon and a hero.
''We want the name. This is a good cause,'' he said.