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.


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]. 

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.”