Bruce THompson: Modern civil rights movement began in Maryland, historian says

Historians in the News

The modern civil rights movement did not begin in 1955, according to Frederick County resident Bruce Thompson. It actually started in Maryland about 20 years earlier.
"Martin Luther King Jr. truly was a leader and should be celebrated, but he didn't create the movement. He stepped into it and broadened it."

Thompson earned his doctorate in history from the University of Maryland College Park in 1996.

Thompson teaches history and coordinates the honors program at Frederick Community College. He will present highlights of his research on the civil rights movement 7 p.m. today at C. Burr Artz Public Library, 110 E. Patrick St., Frederick.

He hopes to show how the work of Maryland activists enabled King to expand the civil right movement's reach.

Although the 1865 passage of the 13th amendment ended slavery in the United States, segregation denied black people the benefits of full citizenship, Thompson said. In the 1930s, Charles Houston, dean of the Howard University School of Law approached a group of young rights activists in Baltimore with a new strategy to end segregation in daily life.

"He said, 'We can sue Jim Crow out of Maryland,'" Thompson said. "That set a new tone that was going on the offensive."

Prior to that time, most legal challenges had been reactionary in nature.

Houston and his protge, Thurgood Marshall, kicked off the campaign with a case known as Murray v. Pearson....

comments powered by Disqus