Like many American cities, Baltimore in Maryland was home to a large number of ethnic immigrant groups and to African American migrants from the Deep South. The civil rights struggle there was founded on black American institutional and organizational life, and especially the personality of the local NAACP branch. This book examines emerging historiography on ideas of grassroots leadership and gender concepts in civil rights organizing by focusing on Lillie M. Jackson, the NAACP’s Baltimore branch president for thirty-five years starting in 1935, and her family. It analyzes whether women were constrained in their leadership potential and discusses the nuances of Baltimore civil rights by considering the themes of gender, class, leadership, and youth activism. The chapter revisits the main debates of the early civil rights struggle and describes the groundwork of the NAACP’s Baltimore branch from 1914. It also explores the black middle-class approach to NAACP campaigns in Baltimore before Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the philosophical and tactical approaches to civil rights taken during Jackson’s presidency, and the role of the NAACP during the height of the civil rights movement.
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