When Lillie M. Jackson, already eighty years old, finally decided to retire from frontline NAACP activism, an election was held on December 16, 1969 to choose her successor as president of the Baltimore branch. Juanita Mitchell, the most active in civil rights among Jackson’s children, ran but lost to Enolia McMillan, who had been critical of Jackson’s style of leadership. Mitchell’s loss brought an end to a long era in Baltimore civil rights history. The NAACP in Baltimore left a legacy of activism that drove social and political change in the city for more than five decades. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 essentially nationalized the civil rights struggle, and President Lyndon B. Johnson attempted to federalize the solutions to historical injustices endured by African Americans through his Great Society program. As a result, Baltimore lost its unique historical status as a “border city” that was considered an experimental area to secure black rights in the face of segregation and racism all over the country.
Keywords: civil rights, Lillie M. Jackson, NAACP, Baltimore, activism, Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, African Americans, segregation, racism