McKeldin-Jackson Project, 1969-1977

“One was a black woman, leader of her people. The other was a white man, twice mayor and twice governor. Separately and together they set new precedents in advancing the cause of human rights. Each benefited from the other’s role, for progress required combined citizen support and public action.” (Lillie May Jackson/Theodore R. McKeldin: Leaders for Human Rights colloquium and exhibition, 1976, event program, OH 8182)

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Browse an inventory of the 92 oral histories in the collection

                                   Subject guide to the McKeldin-Jackson Project

The McKeldin-Jackson Project was an effort to examine the Maryland civil rights movement of the mid 20th century through the medium of oral history by focusing on the roles played by Lillie May Jackson and Theodore R. McKeldin. Lillie May Jackson (1889-1975) was a pioneering civil rights leader beginning in the 1930s and an organizer of the Baltimore Branch of the NAACP. Theodore R. McKeldin (1900-1974) was Mayor of Baltimore (1943-1947, 1963-1967), Governor of Maryland (1951-1959) and an advocate for civil rights. The project was sponsored by the Maryland Historical Society and was supported in part by a grant from the Maryland Committee for the Humanities and Public Policy.

The 92 oral histories in the collection consist of 87 interviews along with other recorded events and materials. Interviews were conducted from 1975-1977, with some earlier recordings made prior to the project added to the collection. Interviewees range from leaders of the movement and average citizens who took part in the battle for civil rights, to those who opposed the civil rights movement. Interviewees include: Theodore McKeldin Jr.; Lillie May Jackson’s children: Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Virginia Jackson Kiah and Bowen Kieffer Jackson; Thomas J. D’Alesandro III, mayor of Baltimore, 1967-1971; Vernon Naimaster, Grand Titan of the Maryland Ku Klux Klan in the mid 1960s; Donald G. Murray, the first African American admitted to the University of Maryland Law School; and Parren Mitchell, U.S. Congressman, 1971-1987. Topics discussed include interviewee’s roles in the N.A.A.C.P. and other civil rights organizations, Maryland politics, law and education, and relationships with Governor Theodore McKeldin and Lillie May Jackson. Please see the subject guide for a more extensive list of topics. (Additional interviews with interviewees Marion Bascom, David Glenn, and Lawrence Cardinal Shehan relating to the civil rights movement can be found in the Baltimore Interfaith Series. The MdHS oral history collection also contains two interviews with Theodore McKeldin: OH 8033 and OH 8215)

Listen to a clip from OH 8210 of interviewee Willie Adams speaking about Lillie May Jackson's contribution to civil rights movement.

Materials available for the interviews include audio recordings, tape indexes, newspaper and periodical clippings, biographical material, interview evaluations, and other items. Full or partial transcripts are available for 52 of the interviews.

In addition to the interviews conducted for the project, there are a number of other materials included in this collection. OH 8177 is a recording of a speech given by Theodore R. Mckeldin for the Maryland Day Pageant Meeting of the Honor Society in History of the University of Baltimore in 1969. OH 8182 consists of the proceedings from a colloquium and exhibition held on November 16, 1976 at the Maryland Historical Society commemorating the McKeldin-Jackson project. There is an audio recording of the event, transcripts of speeches and question and answer sessions with the audience, a program for the colloquium, newspaper clippings, and an article by Clarence Mitchell Jr. The exhibit was on display at the Maryland Historical Society from November 16, 1976 to January 30, 1977.

OH 8212 consists of a student research paper on Theodore McKeldin and the civil rights movement in Maryland. OH 8213 contains background documents and material on the McKeldin-Jackson project including a subject index for the interviews, biographical material on the interviewers, minutes and correspondence for the project, colloquium documents, and project proposals. OH 8158 is a recording and transcript of a 1976 WBAL radio program in which interviewees David Glenn and Judge Robert Watts appeared to discuss the McKeldin-Jackson Project with host Alan Christian.

To make a request to view transcripts or other materials from the McKeldin-Jackson Project, please contact the Special Collections Department at [email protected], or speak to the Special Collections Librarian at the desk in the library.

For more sources on the civil rights movement in the MdHS's collection, please see the Source Guide to the Civil Rights Movement.

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