Mahalia Jackson singing in church

Mahalia Jackson singing in church. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.01.10-016.

Mahalia Jackson singing in church. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.01.10-016.

Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972) became involved with the Civil Rights movement during her friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She sang at the Prayer for Pilgrimage for Freedom civil rights rally in 1957 on the third anniversary of Brown v. Board decision, and just before Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963.

Image information:

Mahalia Jackson singing in church
Baltimore, Maryland
February 1949
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.01.10-016
Maryland Historical Society

Who or Where? Do you know the name of the Baltimore church in this photograph? If so, please fill out the online Henderson Collection ID Survey.

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

Sewing, cleaning, and pressing class at Carver Vocational School

Sewing, cleaning, and pressing class at Carver Vocational School. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.01.05-025.

Sewing, cleaning, and pressing class at Carver Vocational School. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.01.05-025.

Established circa 1925, George Washington Carver Vocational [Technical] High School was the first vocational center established in Baltimore that was open to Black students.

Image information:

Sewing, cleaning, and pressing class at Carver Vocational School
1200-1216 West Lafayette Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland
October 1949
Paul Henderson, 1899-1988
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.01.05-025
Maryland Historical Society

1200 West Lafayette Avenue via Google Maps:

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.”

Baltimore Elite Giants

Elite Giants, Negro League baseball team, HEN.09.10-016

In 1929, the Elite Giants joined the Negro National League. Beginning in Nashville, Tennessee, the team moved to Detroit, Michigan, Columbus Ohio, and Washington, D.C. before settling on the east side of Baltimore in May 1938. Later, the team moved to south Baltimore’s Westport Ball Park.

Image information:
[Elite Giants, Negro League Baseball team, group portrait]
Not dated (circa 1938)
Paul Henderson, 1899-1988
Digital archival print from 8 in. x 10 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.09.10-016

Top row, left: Joe Black; Leroy Ferrell; Charles (Specs) Davidson; Lenny Pearson; Al Wilmore; Bob Romby; Johnny Hayes; Jim Gilliam; Jesse (Hoss) Walker;
Bottom row: Butch Davis; Silvester Rodgers; Henry Kimbro; Vic Harris; Henry Bayliss; Henry (Frazier) Robinson; Frank Russell; Tom (Pee Wee) Butts; Leon Day

More photographs of the Baltimore Elite Giants by Paul Henderson:

Clean Block Campaign

Clean Block Campaign. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.A2-187

The Junior Department of the AFRO-AMERICAN newspaper launched the Clean Block Campaign on July 13, 1935 in an effort to encourage children to “wash their front steps and turn the hose on sidewalks and streets” during the summer months. The campaign hoped to encourage the community to demand the lessening of smoke and noises, prompt garbage collection, and upkeep of public squares. Clean Block campaigns sprung up in many large cities such as Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Amherst, Virginia.

Source: AFRO-AMERICAN, July 13, 1966

Image information:
[Clean Block Campaign winner (center)]
Paul Samuel Henderson, 1899-1988
July 1948
Digital reproduction from 4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.00.A2-187
Maryland Historical Society

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)