How the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement” Led Massive Change

How the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement” Led Massive Change
11 Jul 2016

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals. These words were spoken by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, the famed civil rights leader known for his inspiring work as a non-violent activist. This philosophy, however, was first adopted by a second-grade teacher from Baltimore, Maryland named Lillie Carroll Jackson.

Why she’s Bold & Fearless…

Dr Lillie May Carroll Jackson, Mother of the Civil Rights MovementAffectionately known as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Lillie Carroll Jackson was one of those women who made things happen–no

fuss no excuses, just results. As the owner of several rental

properties in Baltimore she led the charge to revive and integrate the city’s parks and communal places. She also became the first African American women to practice law in Maryland after receiving her degree in 1950.

Her leadership of the “Buy Where You Can Work” campaign sparked a trend across the country of similar protest. The campaign “encouraged African-American residents of Baltimore to shop only at businesses where they could work, boycotting businesses with discriminatory hiring practices. The campaign’s success led to similar protests in other cities around the country.” (Wikipedia) The campaign resulted in grocery stores in Baltimore hiring 42 Black clerks.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, during her 35 year tenure as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Baltimore chapter the membership grew to be the largest in the nation.

Under her leadership the NAACP’s Baltimore chapter was successful in integrating University of Maryland and the Baltimore police force, as well as equalizing salaries for Black and White teachers in Baltimore. In accordance with her will Jackson’s home of 22 years which was full of artifacts pertaining to her and others life work as activist and servants to the community, was turned into a museum in 1976. Now under the management of Morgan State University and the State of Maryland the newly restored museum, showcasing Jackson’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement, reopened in June 2016.

Given the current state of racism in the United States, what actionable suggestions would you give to make a real impact on this hot-button issue? How do you think past Civil Rights leaders like Ms. Jackson would respond to the challenges we’re now facing in the U.S.?


Ebonee Davis

Ebonee Davis is the founder of The Sankofa Group, a public history firm that interprets the history of people of color across the Diaspora. As a public historian, Davis works within the realm of museums, historic parks, and archives, developing programs that share the histories of people of color. Davis has been a guest lecturer at Howard University and the Bethesda Navy Medical Center College. She’s developed programs and exhibitions for institutions such as the National Park Service, the Banneker Douglass Museum, and the FBCG Historical Preservation Commission. Davis is presently working with the WEB DuBois Center in Ghana, West Africa on the second phase of a long term collaborative project to restore the home and personal book collection of WEB DuBois.

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