Lillie Carroll Jackson

(1889 - 1975)


Dr. Lillie Carroll Jackson, a native of Baltimore, headed the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for 35 years.  She became known as a champion of her people and the heart of the civil rights movement in Maryland.  Under her leadership, the Baltimore branch initiated and won legal cases which opened the classrooms of the University of Maryland and other publicly financed institutions to those who had been denied admittance on the basis of race.

Jackson also organized a school to prepare black citizens for the civil service examinations that had to be taken by those who wanted to become police officers.  One of the first students to enroll in the school was Bishop Robinson, who later became the first black police commissioner for the City of Baltimore and secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Marylanders often heard Jackson's challenge: "God helps those who help themselves." She was an early mentor to legal scholars such as Charles Houston and Thurgood Marshall.  She raised funds which afforded them the ability to challenge race-based laws and practices in courts of law.  Her efforts helped secure the passage of public accommodations and fair employment ordinances in Baltimore City.   She also played a critical role in the passage of federal civil rights legislation in 1964, 1965, and 1966.

Dr. Jackson's vision went beyond her life.  Before her death in 1975, she willed that her home become a civil rights museum.  She felt it was important to remember the story of the struggle for civil rights.  The Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum, which opened in 1978, is the first privately owned museum in Baltimore to be named in honor of a black woman.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 1986.

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2001