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This blog was created in order to provide more information to the public about the panel discussion Seen & Heard: Maryland’s Civil Rights Era in Photographs and Oral Histories, taking place at the Maryland Historical Society on February 23, 2012.

Press Release:

Seen and Heard: Maryland’s Civil Rights Era in Photographs and Oral Histories

Panel discussion with Larry Gibson (UM Law), Dr. Helena Hicks (Civil Rights activist, CHAP), Dr. Barry Lanman (UMBC), Dr. Michelle Scott (UMBC), and William F. Zorzi (“The Wire”); accompanying exhibition of photographs

Baltimore, Maryland – Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) will celebrate the Paul Henderson Photograph Collection (ca. 1930-1960) and McKeldin-Jackson Oral History Project (1969-1977) on the evening of February 23, 2012 from 6p-8p with a panel discussion and small accompanying exhibition. The esteemed panelists will discuss their personal experiences and expertise as they relate to the collections and the greater picture of the civil rights struggle in Maryland. The event is free and open to the public.

The Panel

  • Larry Gibson, Professor of Law at University of Maryland, also serves as Commissioner for Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) and is Chairman of the Commission to Coordinate the Study, Commemoration, and Impact of the History and Legacy of Slavery in Maryland.
  • Dr. Helena Hicks was a participant in the 1955 Read’s Drugstore sit-ins in downtown Baltimore and now serves as a Commissioner for CHAP.
  • Dr. Barry Lanman, professor and Director of the Martha Ross Center for Oral History at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), personally participated in the McKeldin-Jackson Oral History Project by conducting interviews for the project.
  • Dr. Michelle Scott, also from UMBC, is an associate professor whose work specializes in the study of race and ethnicity in the American experience with emphasis on African American history, black musical culture, and women’s studies.
  • William F. Zorzi, reporter and editor for nearly twenty years for The Sun of Baltimore, also wrote for the last three seasons of “The Wire” television program on Home Box Office (HBO) and is currently at work with partner David Simon on a book about the rise of the drug culture in Baltimore, using Pennsylvania Avenue and its habitués as the vehicles to tell the story.

The Interim Director of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture, Dr. Skipp Sanders, will introduce the panel and John Gartrell, Archivist at the Afro-American Newspapers Archives and Research Center will moderate.

Paul Henderson was an African American photographer who worked in Baltimore from the 1930s to 1960s. Much of his career was spent at the Afro-American newspaper. Henderson documented both significant events and every day life in Baltimore’s African American community, leaving behind a collection of over 6,000 photographs never before seen in its entirety.

Henderson captured Paul Robeson, concert singer, protesting the Jim Crow admissions policy at Baltimore’s Ford’s Theatre, a protest that lasted seven years. Henderson was interested in photographing the businesses, business owners and  pedestrians along Pennsylvania Avenue, the heart of Baltimore’s growing black district. Among the highlights are images of Charm Centre, a women’s clothing store where customers could actually try garments on before purchasing, an everyday practice denied to black shoppers. He photographed significant leaders such as Juanita Jackson Mitchell, first African American woman to practice law in the state of Maryland, Verda Freeman Welcome, first African American woman to become state senator in the United States, Thurgood Marshall, council to the NAACP before becoming the first African American Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Carl Murphy, publisher of the Afro-American newspaper, and many more. Morgan State College (now University), vocational schools, church and civic organizations are also well represented in the collection. A selection of Henderson’s photographs will be on display outside of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library.

The Governor Theodore McKeldin-Dr. Lillie Carroll Jackson Oral History Project is an inquiry into the civil rights activities of these two Maryland leaders. From 1974 through 1977 volunteers conducted eighty-seven interviews with civil rights activists and leaders, as well as those who opposed the movement. Interviewees discuss their involvement with the NAACP, Maryland politics, law, education, and their relationship with Governor McKeldin and Dr. Lillie Carroll Jackson. Paired with the Henderson photographs, this oral history collection provides context and feeling for an important part of the American story. Together, these collections recreate an era.

About Maryland Historical Society
The Maryland Historical Society was founded in 1844 and is the largest museum and library dedicated to the history of Maryland. Occupying an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore, the Society’s mission is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland’s diverse cultural heritage.” The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled Maryland Historical Magazine. More information about the Maryland Historical Society can be found online at http://www.mdhs.org

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