A Maryland
Civil Rights Sojourn

A gentlemen explaining an exhibit at the Banneker Douglass Museum.
 

As our nation celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Governor Wes Moore has proclaimed 2024 as The Year of Civil Rights in Maryland. Plan a visit to sites where these brave Marylanders fought to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 's dream a reality for all. Hear powerful stories of activism and heroism that created a lasting impact on our communities and society.

 

 

Civil Rights Journey Through Central Maryland

Throughout Jim Crow segregation, Marylanders organized, resisted injustice and were victorious in fighting for their rights. They made progress toward equal access to education, recreation, employment and the integration of schools. Maryland is the proud birthplace of civil rights leaders Thurgood Marshall, Verda M.F. Welcome, Gloria Richardson, Clarence Mitchell, Jr. and countless others. As our nation celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Governor Wes Moore has proclaimed 2024 as The Year of Civil Rights in Maryland. Plan a visit to sites where these brave Marylanders fought to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 's dream a reality for all. Hear powerful stories of activism and heroism that created a lasting impact on our communities and society.

Begin your tour with the moving Thurgood Marshall Tribute at Baltimore Washington International Airport, which honors one of the foremost leaders in the struggle for equal rights under the law. The exhibit, on Concourse C, features a timeline of Marylander Marshall’s life and highlights his accomplishments, including his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1967 as the first African American on the bench. Pay your respects at the inspiring bust of Marshall by artist Toby Mendez.

 

Baltimore

Baltimore's Black residents have fought for equal rights since the city's earliest days. Home to several museums that tell the story of civil rights, Baltimore is a must-see stop on your tour. Begin your exploration by coming face-to-face with Maryland civil rights leaders such as Senator Verda M.F. Welcome and Thurgood Marshall as well national leaders like Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, the nation’s only wax museum dedicated to telling the story of African Americans from enslavement to the current day.

A few blocks away you can tour the home of civil rights icon and former Baltimore NAACP president Lillie Carroll Jackson at the Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum, housed in Jackson’s four-story row home in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill neighborhood. Continue your exploration from the museum with a guided tour of Baltimore's civil rights legacy on the Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail. This historic district was once one of the nation’s premier African-American shopping and entertainment districts. The tour includes stops at historic sites and churches.

 

Thurgood Marshall Bust at the BWI Airport
BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport

A Thurgood Marshall Bust located at Corridor C,  BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, Anne Arundel County.

The Great Blacks In Wax Museum, Baltimore
Visit Baltimore/Ken Stanek Photography

National Great Blacks In Wax Museum exterior in Baltimore City.

Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum & Ms Jackson
Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum

 Exterior of the Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum and a picture of Ms. Jackson, Baltimore City.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture
Visit Baltimore/Eli Meir Kaplan

The exterior of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in Baltimore City.

 

Your Maryland civil rights journey continues at the Maryland Center for History and Culture where the exhibit “Passion and Purpose” provides an in-depth overview of Maryland’s civil rights story through compelling oral histories, historic photographs and powerful interpretive displays. As you make your way down to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, don’t miss the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, a Smithsonian affiliate, which is known as the city’s “authentic voice of African-American history and culture,”  and features more than 13,000 square feet of permanent and temporary exhibition space holding about 10,000 objects. The museum regularly includes civil rights exhibits and programming. While you are downtown, plan a visit to the Baltimore Museum Of Industry to experience “Forging Progress: Civil Rights, Labor Rights, and Black History in Baltimore," a guided group tour of the museum that focuses on civil rights leaders and events in Baltimore.

Baltimore offers several ways to literally follow in the footsteps of civil rights activists with guided walking tours like Baltimore Heritage’s Foundations of the Movement on Lexington Street Walking Tour, which traces the nationally important role that Lexington Street played in the civil rights movement. Discover sites where protests of racist department store policies and early lunch counter sit-ins transpired, and the AFRO American newspaper’s “Orchids and Onions" campaign shamed segregated businesses with public newspaper listings. Also check out Baltimore Heritage’s Civil Rights Heritage Walking Tour, where you’ll learn the fascinating  history of the city’s Marble Hill/Upton neighborhood, home to civil rights greats such as Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Mitchell, and Lillie Carroll Jackson.

 

A family viewing the exhibits at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture
Visit Baltimore/Dean Ray

An exhibit inside the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in Baltimore City.

A woman admiring an exhibit at the Bannejer Douglass Museum in Annapolis

An exhibit at the Banneker Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County.

Visit the Banneker Douglass Museum of African American history and cultur for special exhibits, lectures, films, tours and educational programs about African-American History.

The exterior of the Banneker Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County.

A family standing outside of the Maryland Center for History & Culture
Ken Stanek Photography

The Maryland Center for History & Culture in Baltimore City.

Harford County

Continue your central Maryland tour with a visit to Harford County, several miles north of Baltimore. Civil rights activists, educators, students and others in the county organized and took action in the 1950s and 1960s to boldly challenge the area’s segregated institutions. Citizens fought to desegregate public schools, businesses, hospitals and housing, and participated in a 1961 Freedom Ride. Trace the path of Harford County’s freedom fighters with the Harford Civil Rights Project’s (HCRP) free mobile app.

Annapolis

Take a short road trip south  to Maryland’s capital, Annapolis. As the UNESCO slave trade port marker at the Annapolis City Dock attests, Annapolis’s Black citizens experienced a long history of struggle. Your first stop here is the Banneker-Douglass Museum, Maryland’s official museum of African-American heritage. The museum is housed in the former Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, constructed in 1874 by a congregation of free African Americans in the heart of the historic downtown.  Frederick Douglass attended the church’s dedication and Rosa Parks spoke here during the Civil Rights Movement. 

Explore “Revisit/Reimagine,” a multidisciplinary civil rights exhibition featuring historical photographs from the AFRO American newspaper archive and powerful artwork from Black Maryland artists. While you are at the museum, take in the permanent exhibit, “Deep Roots, Rising Waters: A Celebration of African Americans in Maryland,” which chronicles Black life from the 17th century through the civil rights movement. The museum also offers a wide variety of programs centered on 2024 as “Maryland’s Year of Civil Rights.” After your visit to the museum, consider taking WATERMARK Tour’s African American Heritage Tour, which also provides a deep historical view of Black history in Annapolis, ranging from enslavement to the civil rights struggle.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Anne Arundel County’s beaches were still segregated. The most famous of these was Carr’s Beach. During the week, Carr’s Beach was a place for day camps, church picnics, and other family activities, but on weekends, it was a popular stop on the "Chitlin Circuit," boasting acts such as Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, Little Richard, James Brown, and countless others. The resort ceased operations in 1974, and in August 2022, the City of Annapolis acquired Carr's Beach to preserve it as a city park providing beach access to Elktonia-Carr’s Beach, which is located within Elktonia Park in Annapolis. While you are at the park, take time to read about the area’s fascinating history on the interpretive signs that line the pathway down to the beach. Another interpretive marker is located outside the park at the intersection of Edgewood Road and Chesapeake Harbor Drive.

Visit The Museum of Historic Annapolis and explore an exhibit on segregation in Maryland’s capital city. The exhibit includes an interactive lunch counter that portrays sit-ins and protests that took place here.

 

Places to Stay Central Maryland

Featured Property
Ellicott City
Turf Valley Resort
Elkridge
Holiday Inn Express & Suites-Columbia East
Ellicott City
The Inn at Mary's Land Farm