Read’s Drug Store Sit-ins
The Read’s Drug Store sit-ins represent the first use of use of sustained direct action against segregation beyond the protests that occurred in places such as Wichita and a number of Northern college towns in the 1940s and early 1950s. Throughout 1955, protesters occupied members of the Read’s Drug Store chain throughout the city of Baltimore. The sit-ins were conducted by students of Morgan State College, along with members of the Baltimore chapter of the Committee of Racial Equality (CORE) who believed that by desegregating the drug store chain, they would be making a powerful statement about the dignity of people of color and the economic power of a united black community.
The main sit-in occurred at Read’s flagship store on January 20, 1955. Protested also organized several other demonstrations, including those that occurred at other franchise locations. The wave of sit-in protests may have been short-lived, but historians have shown that they inspired future direct action protests in other "Border Cities" from Missouri to Kentucky. In 1960, a similar protest in North Carolina led to a wave of protests throughout the Border South that even spread into a number of communities in the Deep South.
The Black Soldier Memorial Statue
The Black Soldier Memorial Statue, commissioned and dedicated by the City of Baltimore thanks to the financial support of an anonymous donor, was designed by sculptor James E. Lewis and unveiled on May 30th, 1972. The statue depicts a soldier holding a wreath and sash. Written on the sash is a chronology of the wars in which African American soldiers fought in the service of the United States. The statue was originally located on the north side of the Battle Monument Park, but has been a permanent fixture in War Memorial Plaza, in front of Baltimore City Hall, since 2007.
Joe Gans and the Goldfield Hotel Historical Marker
In 1902, Baltimore native Joe Gans won his place in history as the first African American world boxing champion, but his most infamous fight was still four years away. In 1906, he boxed a grueling 42 rounds against Oscar Nelson in Goldfield, Nevada, before claiming victory. The impact of this win on Gans and his fans led the boxer to found the Goldfield Hotel in Baltimore, commemorating his hardest-fought win. The hotel's nightclub is also notable for being among the first integrated entertainment spaces. The hotel once stood on the corner of East Lexington and Colvin Streets. The hotel was later used as a grocery store before being demolished in the 1960s. The site of the hotel is now a post office complex.
Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture
Established as the Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture in 1998, this museum is named in honor of Baltimore business leader Reginald F. Lewis, the first Africna American to build and lead a Wall Street law firm. Together with a five million dollar donation from Lewis, funds from the state of Maryland, and donations form indiviudals and organizations throughout, the museum opened its current facility in 2005. Highlights of the museum include three galleries that preserve and share the history and contributions of African Americans in Baltimore. The institution also operates a resource center and offers monthly programs that include lectures, musical performances, and educational events for all ages.
Baltimore Slave Trade Historic Marker
The Baltimore Slave Trade Historic Marker, erected by the Maryland Historical Trust, is a reminder of the connection between the domestic slave market that proliferated primarily between Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Fell’s Point. Although the US banned the import of slaves in 1808, the domestic slave trade in Baltimore thrived, as well as in many other cities at the time. Furthermore, due to innovations such as the cotton gin and the growing desire for more slaves in the Deep South, it is estimated that before 1859, over one million slaves were sold south from Maryland and Virginia.
One Baltimore institution that exemplified this trade was the “slave pens,” most of which were located in Inner Harbor and Fell’s Point, including some that were located near this marker. Compounding the slave pens were frequent advertisements in the Baltimore Sun and other papers, declaring "5,000 Negroes Wanted" or "Negroes! Negroes! Negroes!" In an 1845 city directory, "Slave Dealers" were listed between "Silversmiths" and "Soap." More than a dozen slave traders operated in Baltimore along Pratt and adjacent streets. The stories regarding Baltimore’s past is still controversial for African Americans and whites, and this historic marker ensures that these stories aren’t unforgotten.
Baltimore Riots of 1968
The Baltimore Riots of 1968 marked a violent climax of Baltimore’s racial and economic tensions, and it was the result of numerous social factors of the time. These social factors included declining manufacturing and industry sectors, increasing economic distress and poverty among the city’s growing African American community, and, perhaps most infamously, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Like in nearly every major city in the U.S., King’s assassination was the spark that ignited this riot, which between April 6th and April 14th, resulted in six deaths, 700 injuries, and $8-10 million in property damage around the city.
Former Site of Novak's Food Market - A Landmark of Black Television and History in Baltimore
Situated in an East Baltimore intersection, the plot (now also a construction site) that once held Novak's Food Market, also known as Novak's Grocery, had been a location of unfortunate violence in both film and reality. Prior to 2015, the Baltimore market was probably best known as a film location for the critically-acclaimed HBO drama The Wire- specifically the death scene of one of it's most infamous characters. In real life, Novak's Food Market was set ablaze during riots that overtook the city of Baltimore between April 28th and 29th in 2015. The riots began after the death of a young black man- Freddie Gray, sparked protests against police brutality. While the protestors themselves remained peaceful, rioters took to the streets causing mayhem and setting over fifteen East Baltimore buildings on fire, including Novak's Food Market.
The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum
The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum is a ride through African- American history that uniqueness is truly unrivaled. The museum is comprised of life-sized wax figures that are not only life-like, but also truly invigorating. This museum is unlike anything that you have ever experienced. From the beginning of the tour you are immersed with a truly authentic depiction of African- American history. The tour is vivid and unrelenting in that they show the true malicious beginnings of African-American slaves. The museum illustrates over 400 years of African-American history, however it begins with the Atlantic Slave Trade. With a full model slave ship exhibit, one cannot help but feel enamored by the life-like demeanor of the wax like figurines. Visitors will be astounded by the authentic visual of the museum, and will be left overwhelmed and reeducated.
The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum is the first wax museum to showcase African-American history in the nation. The museum located in Baltimore is truly an inspiring demonstration of African-American history. The museum truly has a life of its own. When you open the doors to the museum, you feel that you are a part of history. Visitors are bombarded with the wax figures of the likes of Hannibal, Askia the Great, Benjamin Banneker, Harriet Tubman, Emmet Till, and over a 100 others. This museum is unrivaled as it truly immerses visitors from start to finish. There is a story at every turn. Every wax figure is important because it has a story behind it. Nothing in the museum is unsubstantial. While you may know the many exploits of Rosa Parks, the museum encourages you to expand your education by setting alongside prominent blacks like Rosa Parks, with the likes of Henry “Box” Brown, Prince Hall, Makeda, Queen of Sheba, and Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman.
The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum is truly a fascinating place. Besides the remarkable uniqueness of the museum, it serves as an educational experience. The museum supplies the visitor with well-known African-Americans, but it also forces you to experience people you have never heard of. It is truly fascinating when you walk into the museum and you see a statue of Rosa Parks, and suddenly you turn the corner and see Daniel “Chappie” James Jr. You are suddenly curious, and want to find out more about the wax figure you see in front of you. Who was Prince Hall, Mother Elizabeth Lange, of Robert Samuel? These are the questions you began to ask yourself. Even the greatest and most knowledgeable historian will appreciate this exhibit because it is not only captivating, but extremely thorough. If you want a truly unique experience of Black History, come and experience Black History in the form of wax.
The Baltimore Afro-American
The Afro, as it is commonly known, is a weekly newspaper in Baltimore, MD. The newspaper has been in circulation since 1892 and is the oldest black family-owned newspaper in the United States. This black owned and operated newspaper has crusaded for racial equality and the socioeconomic advancement of African Americans throughout its existence. For over a half a century, The Afro was the most widely circulated black newspaper on the Atlantic coast and today, with offices in Baltimore and DC, the newspaper has both a print and an online presence. It publishes two weekly editions and on the online front, The Afro gives users access to The Afro Archives - a vault that features various editions from the last 100 years that cover an impressive span of change, division and progress in African American History.
James Weldon Johnson Auditorium, Coppin State University
Constructed in 1972, this auditorium is named in honor of author, poet, and early civil rights leader James Weldon Johnson. Johnson became the first African American to lead the NAACP. The building is one of the oldest on the uniquely modern campus of Coppin State University, an institution of learning that was founded as a high school for African Americans in 1900 and named in honor of former slave and pioneering educator Fanny Jackson Coppin. Like many other campus buildings, this structure was completed in the 1970s and was part of the expansion of the college that led to university status in 2004. The auditorium holds 975 and is the only large assembly space on campus other than the college's intercollegiate athletic facilities.