One of the first major battles of the Baltimore Branch NAACP was to champion the cause of many black teachers in public schools who received lesser salaries than their white counterparts. The NAACP fought for equal pay, equal facilities for learning, and equal teacher-training programs. The backdrop of this particular protest, Frederick Douglass High School, was established in 1883 as the Colored High and Training School and is the second oldest historically integrated high school in the U.S. Prior to desegregation, it was one of only two high schools open to black students. Parren J. Mitchell, brother of Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr., seen here at far left, graduated from Douglass High School in 1940 and in 1970 went on to become Maryland’s first black member of Congress. [Image: Protesting segregated education and teacher-training programs, 700-702 Baker Street, Baltimore, July 1948, Maryland Historical Society, HEN.00.A2-161.]
AUDIO CLIP: Parren Mitchell, Maryland’s first black member of Congress, speaks about his brother, National NAACP lobbyist Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. and his reaction after reporting on the lynching of George Armwood in Princess Anne, Maryland; the City-Wide Young People’s Forum and Thurgood Marshall; picketing at Ford’s Theatre. (McKeldin-Jackson Oral History Project, OH 8170)
More photographs of this protest by Paul Henderson:
“I love my brother very much as most people know. And to see him that evening at supper – my family ate all together – to see him not be able to eat because of that…
And the thing that I guess upset me most was that I didn’t know what a lynching was. I was a little child.
Whatever the thing was that had hurt him so badly, the fact that he was hurt, really started sparking my interest in this.
Then years ago, it must’ve been in the late 30s, early 40s… there was something in Baltimore known as the City-Wide Young People’s Forum and I remember my brother Clarence taking me there and I was young… but it was a fascinating experience to see black artists, black educators come and lecture, sing.
Out of that City-Wide Young People’s Forum, if you know, came the first challenge to the segregation of the University of Maryland Law School, the Donald Murray case.
Out of the participants of that Forum was Thurgood Marshall.
A whole host of… new level of leadership came in to the city as a result of that City-Wide Young People’s Forum. Although I was very young at that time, I was old enough to understand exactly what was being said in terms of the discrimination, the racism.
As a result of that, I remember one of my first picketing ventures was at Ford’s Theatre, when at that time black people could only sit in that third balcony.
I remember night after night being there on that picket line. The actual ugliness, the hostility on the part of some of the whites across the picket line or who just annoyed us because we were there… and then the encouragement that came from some of the others.
From that point on, it was just one thing after another. Once you got into it, events were breaking pretty fast.
That’s the way it happened.”