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“Nationals October 2019

The Role of Maryland in the American Civil Rights Movement 

| September 08, 2021, 08:00 AM

The American Civil Rights Movement started in early 1954 as an organized attempt by Black Americans — in Maryland, and other states, to end the racial injustice by white Americans. This American civil movement was led by activists such as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and others.

Slavery in Maryland spanned 200 years, and by 1700 the U.S. colonists already built an extensive Maryland farm and a Maryland slave society. The American civil rights revolution played a major role in history by ensuring the freedom of Blacks in Maryland.

This movement was a long fight to ensure equal civil rights with the whites, especially in Maryland, where these rights were being trampled upon by Maryland colonists. Thankfully, history recorded Maryland as the first state to gain back its rights and abolish slavery.

Maryland played a huge part in this revolution, and their struggles, pain, and successes can not be forgotten in a hurry.

The Arc of Central Maryland

History of Slavery In Maryland

According to American history, Maryland was the first state to begin this movement and the first state in which slavery was abolished. So many goodwill activists like Thurgood Marshall, Harriet Tubman, etc., plunged headfirst into the civil war in a bid to ensure equal civil rights for the Black Americans.

The whites considered themselves superior to Black people, and they formulated many laws that instigated racism and segregation. In Maryland, churches, alleys, and docks were the only places that African Americans were safe from this apartheid. One such case of discrimination was seen in the Jim Crow Law, which supported that people of color should be seated at the back of the bus.

The law was the standard for many centuries; Blacks and whites were not allowed to be together, both romantically and casually. Sex between the races was forbidden. In 1630, after the importation of black slaves, the Virginia Assembly ordered the whipping of Hugh Davis for lying with a black slave. In 1640, the Governor and Council ordered Robert Sweet to penance in a church for impregnating a black woman. The woman was also whipped.

After some years, the District of Columbia, located between Virginia and Maryland at the North-South borderline, permitted interracial marriage without legal restrictions. The couple, however, suffered social restrictions until the black activists decided to fight for their rights act.

The Long Fight To Freedom

Baltimore is a city where African Americans stood for equal rights. Being the second-largest city in America with many free and enslaved African Americans, it was easy to mobilize the movement. They targeted the churches and places that Black people frequented.

As a result of this movement, the government imposed restrictions on Blacks in Maryland. Later, deportation was also considered, and it birthed the strong will of the activists. At the time, Americans claimed they were practicing democracy, but all men were not treated equally.

It soon became very unbearable for Black activists and white Americans who had Black partners. It started with the free Black citizens who became grounded in rights activism. The civil war in the 1860s started as a result of conflict over slavery. At the beginning of the war, African-Americans were forced into service for manual labor in Union Army camps. After this war, Maryland recorded the rise of the civil movement.

Notable Black people like Martin Luther King fought against racism and the infringement of the rights of Black people. He was a great leader and was so relevant to this evolution that he earned recognition in American history as the most visible spokesman and a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He used peaceful ways like holding university press, peaceful protests, and encouragement to get his points across.

Liquified Creative Annapolis

Universities like Morgan State were active in the civil rights movements, mobilizing the youth and teens into street marches. Soon, positive results of the protests and the Civil Rights Movements began to surface in Maryland. For example:

  • 1939 marked the year that Maryland decided to provide more opportunities for Black students. Morgan State University was opened to students of all races. Black students organized sit-in movements for desegregation in this very university. They stood firm in their quest for desegregation as many waiters and managers would ask them to leave certain places after reciting the Maryland trespassing statute.
  • In 1941, Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, argued that Black teachers and white teachers should be paid equally. This argument required and enforced the government of Maryland to pay the teachers equally.
  • In 1955, schools in Maryland were also forced to begin integration with Brown v. Board of Education. Laws banning sex and marriage between White and Black Americans were enacted in Maryland but later repealed in 1967.
  • In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. The whites still found it difficult to treat the Blacks equally, but there was a legal backing to their right. Now, African Americans and other Americans can stay in the same places as the whites without being arrested or punished. They can get married to anyone irrespective of race, they can vote, they are allowed to sit anywhere in the bus.

Now,  Blacks enjoy the same privileges as whites, and this is all because some activists decided that the oppression was enough and stood up in a national fight against it. The civil war started many years ago, but we still see that the fight has not ended even in our present time. Racism is still glaring in many states, and it is up to us now to stand up and fight for our rights.

Category: Local News, NEWS

About the Author - Stephanie Maris

Stefanie is a local blogger and social media content marketer from Maryland and most recently a wife and a mother. She has an unhealthy obsession with puns, sarcasm and caffeinated beverages.

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