Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trial
In concert with many of Old West Baltimore's civil rights organizations and leaders, African Americans entered the political arena.
As far back as 1792, Thomas Brown, an African American horse doctor and veteran of the Revolutionary War, ran for state delegate, the first known African American to seek office in Baltimore. After the Civil War, Hiram Rhodes Revels (1827-1911), minister of the Baltimore Colored Presbyterian Church from 1858 to 1863, became the first African American U.S. Senator (R. Mississippi) in 1870.
Twenty years later, Harry Sythe Cummings (1866-1917) became Baltimore's first African American elected official. He served four non-consecutive terms. Other African Americans who held city council positions include: Dr. John Marcus Cargill (1895-1897), Hiram Watty (1899 and 1905), William L. Fitzgerald (elected in 1919), Warner T. McGuinn ( elected in 1999) and Walter S. Emerson (elected in 1927). From 1890 to 1930, at least one African American (except 1905 and 1923) served on the city council.
When William Fitzgerald cut ties with the Republican Party and joined the Democratic Party in 1930, African Americans lost their slight hold in the city council. Not until 1955 did an African American again serve on the city council.
In 1989, Clarence "Du" Burns became the first
African American mayor of Baltimore. Burns ascended to the position to complete the term of Mayor William Donald Schaefer when Schaefer became governor. A year later, Burns was defeated by Kurt L. Schmoke, who became the first elected African American mayor.
Baltimore redrew its council districts in 1991, allowing for eight African Americans to become elected. In 2007, Sheila Dixon became the first African American woman elected mayor.
(Inscription below the images in the upper right) Above Top: Howard campaign office, Above: Joseph Howard, Parren Mitchell and Archie Williams celebrate victory, 1968.
(Inscription above the images in the lower left) Left: Hiram Rhodes Revels, first African American U.S. Senator. Below: William Fitzgerald receives honors.
(Inscriptions below the images on the far right) Warner T. McGuinn
Warner T. McGuinn graduated from Lincoln University in 1884 and Yale Law School in 1887. McGuinn became friends with Mark Twain who, impressed with McGuinn's intellectual abilities, helped finance McGuinn's law school education.
William Fitzgerald came from Tennessee after receiving his law degree in 1898. He became the first African American to pass the newly instituted written bar exam. He specialized in real estate, and his work resulted in some of the
earliest African American purchases of home on Madison and Druid Hill avenues.
Walter Emerson grew up in Baltimore and by 1892, at the age of 19, he became secretary of the 7th Ward Republican Club. Thereafter, he was elected three times to the Republican State Central Committee.
African American Baltimore City Council members
1890-1930 Dr. John Marcus Cargill, Harry S. Cummings, Walter S. Emerson, William T. Fitzgerald, Warner T. McGuinn, Hiram Watty1955-1967 Walter T. Dixon, Henry G. Parks 1967-1979 Mary B. Adams, Victorine Q. Adams, Clarence H. "Du" Burns, Robert L. Douglas, Nathan Irby, Jr., Dr. Emerson R. Julian, Alice M. Marshall, Robert C. Marshall, Michael B. Mitchell, Henry G. Parks 1979-1987 Victorine Q. Adams, Clarence H. "Du" Burns, Dr. Claude Hill, Nathan Irby, Jr., Edwin A. Johnson, Nathaniel McFadden, Kweisi Mfume, Michael B. Mitchell, Sterling Paige, Iris Reeves, Norman V.A. Reeves, Agnes Welch; 1987-1991 Lawrence A. Bell, III, Sheila Dixon, Vera Hall, Jacqueline McClean, Iris Reeves, Carl Stokes, Agnes Welch 1991-1999 Lawrence A. Bell, III, Paula Johnson Branch, Rita R. Church, Joan Carter Conway, Robert L. Douglass, Sheila Dixon, Vera Hall, Dr. Norman A. Handy, Sc. Helen Holton, Keiffer Jackson Mitchell, Jr., Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Iris Reeves, Carl Stokes, Melvin L. Stukes, Agnes Welch, Bernard C. "Jack" Young; 1999-2004 Dr. Kwame Abayomi, Paula Johnson Branch, Pamela Carter, Sheila Dixon, Bea Gaddy, Kenneth N. Harris, Sr., Helen L. Holton, Keiffer Jackson Mitchell, Jr., Catherine E. Pugh, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Lisa Joi Stancil, Melvin L. Stukes, Agnes Welch, Bernard C. "Jack" Young 2004-2010 Paula Johnson Branch, Warren M. Branch, Belinda K. Conaway, Kenneth N. Harris, Sr., Bill Henry, Helen L. Holton, Sharon Green Middleton, Keiffer Jackson Mitchell, Jr., Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Carl Stokes, Agnes Welch, Bernard C. "Jack" Young.
Reverse Side of the Marker
Take a walk through history in storied Old West Baltimore. You'll relive the glory days of Pennsylvania Avenue and its surrounding neighborhoods. Follow the lives of inspiring people. Tour churches that served as places of empowerment and beacons of enlightenment, and gain new perspective on this African American community's role in the struggle for civil rights. Explore at your own pace following these story signs to learn about Baltimore African Americans who helped build a city and changed the face of American music, art, literature and politics.
(Inscriptions under the images on the right)
1.Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland
2.The Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum
3.Douglas Memorial Community Church
5.Morriah Keyhole Houses
6.Booker T. Washington Middle School
7.Bethel AME Church
8.Union Baptist Church
9.Sharp Street Methodist Church
10.Henry Highland Garnet School/PS 103
11.The Royal Theatre Marquee Monument
12.Billie Holliday Plaza
13.Macedonia Baptist Church
14.The Comedy Club
15.Trinity Baptist Church
17. Ideal Savings and Loan
19.Thurgood Marshall's Childhood Home
20.Romare Bearden Mural.
(Inscriptions under the images)
*Listen, Can you feel it pulsating down the Street of Royalty?
*It's bee-bop, jazz, comedy—and of course—the blues.
*All the greats were here. Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake and more!
*Learn about African American politicians and lawyers like William Ashbie Hawkins and George McMechan who fought against on ordinance segregating whites and blacks block by block.
*Visit churches that nurtured the soul, and also fed, clothed and housed the poor.
*Follow Thurgood Marshall from Henry Highland Garnet School/PS 103, to winning landmark Supreme Court cases, to becoming a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
*Learn how Old West Baltimore residents and church leaders played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement and in the Buy Where You Can Work jobs campaign.
*And walk in the creative footsteps of writer Zora Neale Hurston, artist Romare Breaden and actors at the Arena Players.