Sunday, June 12, 2016

Eric Conway: Baltimore Sun: Restored civil rights museum showcases early freedom fighters [Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum, Baltimore]

Dr. Eric Conway writes:

Hello Morgan Fine Arts Community,

Yesterday was a great day for Baltimore!  Morgan State Univeristy hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception at the Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum (see invitation and program attached). 

Lillie Carroll Jackson was known as the mother of the civil rights movement (1989-1975).  She was the president of the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP for over thirty-five years (1935-1970).  During her tenure as president she worked along Thurgood Marshall during landmark civil rights litigation including the Murray v. Pearson case removing the color barrier from admission to the Univeristy of Maryland School of Law.  She was a trailblazer in developing strategies of non-violence to defeat racial segregation during the civil rights movement. Certainly these tactics must have influenced Dr. Martin Luther King in his leadership of non-violence response to racism.

The Lillie Carroll Jackson will stated that she wanted her house of twenty-two years on 1320 Eutaw Street, where countless campaigns were organized, to be converted into a civil rights museum after her death.  In 1976 it was opened to the public, however, after years of lack of maintenance without proper financial backing, the museum was forced to close in early 1990s.  In 1997, Morgan State Univeristy took responsibility for the facility.  After receiving a grant from the state of Maryland, Morgan oversaw the substantial renovation and re-opening of the museum.

Although yesterday happened to be one of the hottest days of the season, the over three hundred persons in attendance gladly were present to visibly see the re-opening of the museum.  The Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Pamela Scott-Johnson presided over the ceremony with opening remarks from Morgan’s President, Dr. David Wilson and surviving family members.  Lillie Carrol Jackson’s daughter Juanita, who was the first African American woman to practice law in Maryland, happened to marry Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr., so many members of the Mitchell family were present to reminiscence in this familiar family property.

As a native Baltimorean, I learned much about the significant part Baltimore and Morgan played in the civil rights struggle both locally and nationally.  Currently, the museum is only open for tours by appointment, however, I  am certain with the vibrant new systems and interactive exhibits displayed, this will become another must-see Baltimore museum along side of the Reginald Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.  

See attached some photos to give you a sense of this great treasure. Also see below a link to a Baltimore Sun newspaper article sharing the opening reception, much more eloquently than I can recount.


Link to Baltimore Sun Newspaper Article:

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