Thurgood Marshall Receiving NAACP Lifetime Membership Plaque from Carl Murphy

Thurgood Marshall Receiving NAACP Plaque from Carl Murphy, ca. 1956. Paul Henderson, HEN.00.A2-148.

Thurgood Marshall Receiving NAACP Plaque from Carl Murphy, ca. 1956. Paul Henderson, HEN.00.A2-148.

Before Baltimore native Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993) became the first African American U.S. Supreme Court justice, he was a lawyer directing legal operations for the NAACP from 1940 to 1961. Known for many of his great accomplishments during the struggle for civil rights, his most noted are the Murray v. Pearson (1936) and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954). In the former case, Marshall, along with Charles Hamilton Houston broke the walls of segregation in 1935 when they secured the admission of Donald Gaines Murray to the University of Maryland School of Law, which before then denied admission to African Americans. The former and most well-known Marshall case was a landmark decision that decreed separate public schools for African American and white students was unconstitutional in 1954.

Image information:

Thurgood Marshall receiving NAACP lifetime membership plaque from Carl Murphy [editor of the Afro-American newspaper]
Baltimore, Maryland
circa 1956
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.00.A2-148
Maryland Historical Society

NAACP Membership Registration Campaign meeting

NAACP meeting. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.A2-147.

NAACP meeting. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.A2-147.

Founded in 1912, the Baltimore Branch of the NAACP is the second oldest in the country. In response to legal segregation in education, housing, and employment, Dr. Carl Murphy, editor of the Afro-American newspaper, called a meeting with fourteen community leaders in 1935 in an effort to revitalize the branch. Dr. Lillie May Carroll Jackson was one of the fourteen and from then until 1970, she would be president of the Baltimore Branch. The association’s membership in 1965 totaled 440,538 in 1,642 branches throughout the U.S.

Image information:

NAACP Membership Registration Campaign meeting
Baltimore, Maryland
October 1948
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.00.A2-147
Maryland Historical Society

Group portrait [NAACP lawyers with Esther McCready and others]

Group portrait [NAACP lawyers with Esther McCready and others], 1950. Paul Henderson, HEN.02.07-019.

Group portrait [NAACP lawyers with Esther McCready and others], 1950. Paul Henderson, HEN.02.07-019.

Although fully qualified, Esther McCready (third from left) was denied admission to the University of Maryland School of Nursing solely because of her skin color. Seen here with her attorneys, Thurgood Marshall (fourth from left) and Donald Gaines Murray (second from right), McCready sued the university for admission based on the argument that she was not provided “equal protection under the law” (McCready v. Byrd, 1949) and forced to pursue her education out-of-state where Blacks were accepted while her white counterparts were being trained in state. On April 14, 1950, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in McCready’s favor. More information about those pictured below.

Image information:

Group portrait [NAACP lawyers with Esther McCready and others]
Paul Henderson, 1899-1988
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.02.07-019
Maryland Historical Society

HEN.02.07-019 Group photograph with Thurgood Marshall

  1. Unknown
  2. Unknown
  3. Esther McCready (Nursing school)
  4. Harry A. Cole (Legal counsel)
  5. Thurgood Marshall (Legal counsel)
  6. Linwood G. Koger (Legal counsel)
  7. Unknown
  8. Donald Stewart (School of Medicine)
  9. Hiram Whittle (Engineering)
  10. Richard Tyson (Pharmacy)
  11. Earl Koger (Legal counsel)
  12. James “Biddy” Woods”
  13. Donald Gaines Murray (Legal counsel)
  14. Parren Mitchell (Sociology)


Ms. McCready was a special guest at the program that accompanied the Paul Henderson exhibition opening (February 23, 2012):

Esther McCready (third from left) speaking about her experience at the panel discussion, Seen & Heard: Maryland's Civil Rights Era in Photographs and Oral Histories.

Esther McCready (third from left) speaking about her experience at the panel discussion, Seen & Heard: Maryland’s Civil Rights Era in Photographs and Oral Histories.

The Charm Centre

The Charm Centre, 1948. Paul Henderson, MdHS, HEN.00.B2-164.

The Charm Centre, 1948. Paul Henderson, MdHS, HEN.00.B2-164.

The owners of this upscale women’s dress store, William “Little Willie” Lloyd Adams and wife Victorine Quille Adams, had impressive resumes that contributed to the civil rights struggle. Willie Adams, multi-million dollar illegal lotteries operator turned legitimate businessman, funded aspiring Black entrepreneurs during a time when banks would not lend to Blacks. He also funded desegregation lawsuits. Victorine Adams was a highly regarded woman for both her poise and political accomplishment. In 1946, she directed the “Register-to-Vote” campaign which resulted in thousands of new voters. She was the first elected woman of any race to be appointed to the Baltimore City Council in 1967.

Image information:

The Charm Centre

1811 Pennsylvania Avenue, Baltimore
September 1948
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.00.B2-164

Google Maps Street View of 1811 Pennsylvania Avenue today:

Diminutive Mrs. Adams received ‘giant’ tribute. (May 10, 1958). Afro-American newspaper.
Smith, F. (2008). Here Lies Jim Crow: Civil Rights in Maryland. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Pietila, A. (2010). Not in My Neighborhood:  How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City. Ivan R. Dee, Publisher.


Bayard Rustin

Mrs. Bowen Jackson and Bayard Rustin protesting Ford's Theatre. Paul Henderson, MdHS, HEN.00.A2-155.

Mrs. Bowen Jackson and Bayard Rustin protesting Ford’s Theatre. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.A2-155.

Henderson photographed Bayard Rustin when he was in Baltimore protesting the Jim Crow admission policy at Ford’s Theatre. The protest lasted five years and attracted Civil Rights advocates such as Rustin and Paul Robeson, as seen in other Henderson photographs.

Bayard is mostly recognized for organizing the 1963 March on Washington and being a close advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. Not only was Rustin fighting for his rights as an African American in America, but he was also fighting for his right to live an openly gay lifestyle. To find out more about Rustin, visit the site of a documentary on Rustin at Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin at There is a great trailer for the documentary on the home page.

A cropped version of Henderson’s photograph ran in the Afro-American newspaper on October 29, 1949 with the following caption:
Bayard Rustin, who spent 22 days on the North Carolina chain gang for refusal to obey the jim crow travel laws, is shown as he joined the NAACP picket line at Ford’s Theatre, last week, in protest of its policy of segregation. This is the fourth season of the NAACP’s picketing in Baltimore. Shown left to right, are Mrs. Bowen Jackson and Mr. Rustin. 

The FBI investigated Rustin for his alleged ties to the Communist Party. The documents can be viewed through the FBI Records Vault. FBI documents on other Civil Rights activists can also be viewed.

Dr. Lillie May Carroll Jackson

Jackson and Mitchell Family. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.B1-052

This family has contributed a significant amount to the Civil Rights movement and the history of Baltimore. Keiffer Jackson (seated left), traveling church entertainer was husband of Dr. Lillie May Carroll Jackson (seated far right), President of the Baltimore Branch NAACP from 1935 to 1970. Their daughters Juanita Jackson Mitchell (seated second from left), the first Black woman to practice law in Maryland, and Virginia Jackson Kiah (seated second from right) worked together to create the City-Wide Young People’s Forum. Virginia was also a well-known artist. Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. (standing center), after whom the Baltimore City Courthouse is named, reported for the Afro-American newspaper before moving on to become an NAACP lobbyist in Washington, D.C. [Image: Jackson and Mitchell Family, not dated, Maryland Historical Society, HEN.00.B1-052.]

PHOTOGRAPHS AND AUDIO CLIP: Vernon Dobson speaking about Dr. Lillie May Carroll Jackson (McKeldin-Jackson Oral History Project, OH 8131)


Getting back to Dr. Jackson… understand the continuity of history, I would say that the thing that I think makes her leadership important in the Civil Rights Movement in Baltimore is that she made this a religion onto itself, this whole matter of civil rights. 

Wherever it was necessary for us to have a spokesman, she was that person. Our spokesperson. 

And wherever she felt the necessity for making some kind of appeal for equal rights and justice under the law, she did it. 

And many times, at a personal sacrifice. 

Largely [?] later on, the NAACP started getting funds from the churches so they were undergirded by church funds and that kind of a thing later on. 

Even then, she had to have the personal magnetism and persuasion to get church to give and to support. 

I used to always enjoy her coming to a large church meeting and just having her personality take over. 

Everybody would… any presiding officer would always use as a measure of his success to preside his ability to keep her down to… limit her to two minutes or three minutes and she would come in with a glimmer in her eye and look at him and say, “Young man,” he could be sixty, seventy years old, “Young man, you just got here. I’ve been in this struggle all these years.”

And then she’d go on to push him aside with a verbal barrage that would just reduce him to nothing and then would go on to make an appeal and it would always last fifteen, twenty minutes. 

Pennsylvania Avenue

Pedestrians on Pennsylvania Avenue. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.B1-112.

Pennsylvania Avenue was the black community’s place for entertainment, retail stores, clubs, restaurants, and much more. Some businesses, however, upheld strict Jim Crow policies. In an effort to change policies, the self-described prophet, Kiowa Costonie, along with many organizations including the City-Wide Young People’s Forum conducted the “Buy Where You Can Work Campaign” in the early 1930s. The purpose of the campaign was to force white-owned stores in the black community to hire black employees. After picketing began, business owners headed to the courts to request they deem the picketing illegal. [Image: Pedestrians on sidewalk, 1600 block, Pennsylvania Avenue, March 1948, Maryland Historical Society, HEN.00.B1-112.]

More photographs of Pennsylvania Avenue by Paul Henderson:

Protesting Segregated Education and Teacher-Training Programs

Protesting segregated education and teacher-training programs. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.A2-161

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.”

Protesting Ford’s Theater

Protesting Jim Crow admission policy at Ford’s Theater, Baltimore, Maryland. Paul Henderson, 1948. Maryland Historical Society, HEN.00.A2-156.

Ford’s allowed African American actors on stage, but patrons were restricted to an area with poor sight lines known as “the pit.” Black patrons purchased their tickets from the main window and were directed to the alley staircase of the three-story building to reach their seats in the last few rows of the second balcony. The Lyric, in comparison, maintained the opposite policy whereby African Americans were prohibited from the stage, but allowed general seating.

In 1947 Baltimore’s Black community declared that the policies at Ford’s Theater were no longer to be tolerated. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) led a successful protest that would last five years in a city that was much more accustomed to labor-related pickets. The targeted action began with women in key leadership positions, carried out by an interracial group.

The effort was supported by well-known actors and activists of the time period. Renowned actor Paul Robeson headed the cast of Porgy and Bess and threatened to boycott the seating policy, but it is suspected that contractual obligation kept him from doing so. Robeson returned to Baltimore many more times, not to act, but to hold a sign and march outside Ford’s demanding action.

Image information:
Protesting Jim Crow admission policy at Ford’s Theater (Paul Robeson, second from left, Dr. E.T. Camper, fourth from left)
314-320 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, Maryland
March 1948
Paul Samuel Henderson, 1899-1988
Digital reproduction from 4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.00.A2-156
Maryland Historical Society

More photographs of the protest at Ford’s Theater by Paul Henderson:

Google Maps Street view of 314 West Fayette Street today:

Labor Committee members of the NAACP

Labor Committee members of the NAACP. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.A1-095

Baltimore AFRO-AMERICAN newspaper, January 1, 1950; pg. 14:
Headline: Laying Plans for Use of Skilled Workers on Y Annex

Labor Committee members of the NAACP’s Baltimore Branch discuss the pledge of the YMCA contractors to employ skilled workers on the annex building and map plans to open up skilled jobs on other construction projects. Seated from left are Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr., national NAACP labor secretary; Cecil Scott, C. M. Puryear; D. R. Page; the Revs Thomas Davis, Harrison Bryant; standing, the Rev. Eugene T. Grove; Emerson Brown Jr.; J. Alvin Jones and Raymond A. C. Young. [Image: Labor Committee members of the NAACP, December 1949, Maryland Historical Society, HEN.00.A1-095.]

WARNING. Audio Clip Contains Graphic Information About the Lynching of George Armwood. May Be Disturbing To Some Listeners. Audio Clip: Clarence Mitchell describing what he saw shortly after George Armwood was lynched in Princess Anne, Maryland; Paul Henderson attempting to photograph someone in the area of the lynching; and subsequent intimidation and violent tactics toward African Americans in the community. (McKeldin-Jackson Oral History Project, OH 8209)