Paul Henderson Photographs

Paul Henderson was a photojournalist who worked for the Afro-American newspaper and photographed civil rights activities, sports, street scenes, politicians, and countless unidentified people. Over 7,000 of his photographs are held at the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) in Baltimore, Maryland. The exhibit Paul Henderson: Baltimore’s Civil Rights Era in Photographs, ca. 1940-1960 is on display at MdHS indefinitely and the reference photos of the original negatives are available to the public in the Special Collections Department in the MdHS library. The Henderson Collection finding aid can also be found on the MdHS website.

Through Henderson’s photos, this blog asks the question, “What was life like in Maryland for the African American community during the Civil Rights Era?” Browse through the articles about people, places, and events below or the Galleries pages to get an idea.

Video info: Interview with Vernon Dobson. McKeldin-Jackson Oral History Project Collection, Maryland Historical Society, OH 8131.

I think it’s a false assumption that negro progress has been born on the shoulders of a few people. And this is why I shun myself and [?] the leadership role, visible leadership role when it comes to being printed up in the press as a leader. Because I think it’s a false assumption on the part of any person to believe that he or she is the leader. We are participants of a process and the process is continuing. And it never ends. And isn’t going to end until everybody’s free.

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

Sam Lacy with Morgan State College relay team

Sam Lacy, sports writer for the Afro-American newspaper, speaking with Morgan State College relay team. Paul Henderson, 1949. Maryland Historical Society.

Sam Lacy, sports writer for the Afro-American newspaper, speaking with Morgan State College relay team. Paul Henderson, 1949. Maryland Historical Society.

Sports writer for the Afro-American newspaper, Sam Lacy, covered sports and used the opportunity to write about racial injustice in the profession. He was known for confronting and shaming those who ignored Black athletic talent.

Sam Lacy is seen here speaking with members of the Morgan State College relay team known as the “Historic Four.” Bill Brown (second from left), Robert “Bob” Tyler (third from left), Sam LaBeach (second from right), George Rhoden (far right).

Image information:

Sam Lacy with Morgan State College relay team
Baltimore, Maryland
May 1949
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.01.14-041
Maryland Historical Society

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. 

Governor Theodore McKeldin

Gov. McKeldin with Marse Callaway and Carl Murphy. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.B1-069.

Governor Theodore McKeldin (1900–1974), Marse Callaway, and Carl Murphy (1889–1967) were immensely important in the struggle for civil rights. After his first of two terms as Mayor of Baltimore, Republican Gov. McKeldin took office in 1951 until 1959. Promoting racial justice early in his political career, he gained powerful allies in the black community. Callaway served as McKeldin’s political aide, bridging the issues of the black community to Gov. McKeldin. Murphy, editor-publisher of the Afro-American newspaper, helped shape the movement by choosing its leaders, providing funding, and reporting issues to his readers. Image: Governor Theodore McKeldin in his office with Marse Callaway and Carl Murphy in background, Annapolis, 1951, Maryland Historical Society, HEN.00.B1-069

PHOTOGRAPHS AND AUDIO CLIP: Silas Craft, educator and school administrator involved with the Civil Rights movement through the NAACP of Howard and Montgomery Counties, speaks about Governor Theodore McKeldin. (McKeldin-Jackson Oral History Project, Maryland  Historical Society, OH 8137.)


Oh yes, always impressed with him [inaudible] He attempted to follow various kinds of suggestions as far as I could see, he did a pretty good job at keeping his formal commitments. What else… he annunciated. 

As far as I know, I wasn’t on the political circles, political circuit. Still not. But my general observation he was pretty pronounced in his behavior. And he did break barriers in the appointing of blacks to certain administrative posts that never held before in the history of America. 

But the state as a whole, from McKeldin [inaudible] governors had a way of shying away from the basic concerns of the black movement and civil rights. Governor after governor did not let themselves become too involved in those areas. Other than to provide some good service. 

I would say McKeldin was the forerunner of new thought in this area of race relations from the time I came to this state, to the time that he ended his administration. 

Certainly think he did a good job of breaking all… making the trail for change. Of course we know we could go back to when it got rid of the whole Jim Crow law here in the state… came right up to the apartments of blacks to administrative boards in the state [inaudible]. 

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

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)