Forty Years of Determined Struggle

Forty Years of Determined Struggle


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



On the front line, I was among the first to be arrested with a howling mob throwing

projectiles. The News American interviewed me, my picture appeared in the paper.

The next day I was fired from my job at a  car wash.



Forty Years of Determined Struggle

A Political Portrait of Robert Moore, a Baltimore Leader

By Rudolph Lewis


Some of us are destined to live a charmed life of sacrifice, to place body and soul on the line in pursuit of democratic ideals. Such an individual is Robert B. Moore, a leading Baltimore advocate for the working poor. From his early life to present, we can track a career of commitment to justice, equality, and brotherhood. President of 1199E-DC, the leading health care workers union in Maryland, Robert  Moore works vigorously still as a leading representative for a better, healthier, and more prosperous life in Baltimore.

Born in Baltimore, 1944, Robert “Bob” Moore was the first son of Robert Abraham Moore and Willie Alzenia Barber, both migrants from South Carolina. He was raised in working class neighborhoods of East and West Baltimore. His father R.A. Moore was a war veteran and a shop steward for the United Steel Workers of America (USWA) at Bethlehem Steel. His parents were Presbyterian and so he became an active member of Knox Presbyterian Church, Herman Octavious Graham, pastor. Because of his ardent spirit, his love of the Word, many expected that he would become a minister.

Early Years of Activism

While in high school (1960-1963),  Bob became a member of the Jackie Robinson Youth Council of NAACP and participated in numerous church-led picketing and demonstrations. He was among those who picketed BG&E and the telephone company. “They claimed they couldn’t find qualified Negroes to read the meters or answer the phones. There was much social denial in those days,” Bob Moore said, as he recalled his childhood exploits.

He also participated in the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park demonstrations. “My first arrest occurred at Gwynn Oak. It was an act of civil disobedience. In 1963, I began to move toward sit-ins. For the most part, the NAACP’s direct action was limited to picketing and passing out leaflets. I fervently believed that any injustice must be challenged as forcefully as was legal or ethical. I saw what other students were doing, sit-ins and Freedom Rides. Those acts took courage and self-control, a knowledge of the self. The youth of my day had to put themselves to the test. The old fears had to be vanquished. The young men and women who dared to say No to gradualism, these were my heroes.  

“On the front line, I was among the first to be arrested with a howling mob throwing projectiles. The News American interviewed me, my picture appeared in the paper. The next day I was fired from my job at a  car wash. Reverend Herman O. Graham of Knox Presbyterian Church was one of the leaders of that demonstration. That our minister was involved softened my parents criticisms. I was also involved in the 1962/1963 Freedom Rides to local restaurants, to desegregate restaurants such as White Tower and those in Little Italy. I was young then. Gradually I came to believe the churches were not doing all it could do.”

In 1963, Bob graduated from Frederick Douglass High School and began classes at Morgan State College for the Spring semester. A superior wrestler in his weight class, Robert Moore won in his freshman year the CIAA Wrestling Championship.  Months later, President John F. Kennedy made a televised speech in which he asked Congress to pass a civil rights act. Bob heeding the call joined 200,000 people in the nation’s capital to march from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial “for jobs and freedom.” He heard Martin’s “I have a Dream Speech” and he heard the young John Lewis, chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Later that summer, September 15, four black girls were killed in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. These were dangerous times to be involved in political protest. At nineteen, he participated in the Northwood Theater demonstrations, which involved civil disobedience and arrest. Morgan students involved in the Northwood affair caused much concern for Dr.[Martin] Jenkins, then the president of the college. Bob has done some reevaluation of his own political militancy. “I have since learned there is more than one side to a question. For Dr. Jenkins and others, there was a real question of institutional jeopardy. Morgan was receiving state funds.”

Morgan State, Student Policies, & U-JOIN

While at Morgan, Bob became a founder of Dissent (1963- ), a Morgan State student group, Dr. Clifford DuRand was the student advisor. Dissent was primarily a study group that considered local and national policies and political ideologies. But many of the students involved became activists. Some of them, like Bob, belonged also to the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).  

“My influences and contacts expanded when I began to attend student conferences. There were students from Harvard and other schools on the east and west coasts. I gained a national sense of the Movement. The 1963 conference recruited students to do volunteer work in the South, including the 1964 Mississippi Project. I didn’t go to Mississippi because I didn’t have the money to pay my way. So I remained in Baltimore. Here, SDS was mainly a Hopkins students’ thing. But there were others involved. We wanted to make the struggle for the everyday life of the poor more concrete. So we created a Baltimore project – Union for Jobs or Income Now (U-JOIN). U-JOIN wanted to go beyond the issues of public accommodation and job discrimination. We had two offices, one on South Broadway, manned by a white staff, and another on Gay Street, manned by a black staff. But we had one staff meeting.  

“Our first initiative was to involve poor people in building organizations. We monitored policies that affected the community and organized teach-ins. We acted on what community people believed were there most pressing problems with landlords and local businessmen. We organized rent strikes. We tried to organize the unemployed, but found that was near impossible. We made considerable gains in organizing welfare recipients, which eventually grew into a welfare rights organization, headed by Peggy McCarthy.”

In early 1964, Bob Moore testified before a Baltimore City Council committee holding hearings on poverty in Baltimore. “Donald Schaefer chaired the committee hearing on funding. He mistakenly thought I was for the funding and called me forward as a person living in the target area. I stated U-JOIN’s position: The funding did not generate jobs. Ironically, the conservative wing headed by John Pica, of the third district, supported our position. This bout with the Health and Welfare Council, a local white philanthropic society, was a win for U-JOIN and its director Walter Lively, my mentor, who went on to become the head of the Baltimore Urban Coalition. His premature demise robbed Baltimore of a great leader. Many expected him to be Baltimore’s first black mayor.”

Overall 1964 was a pivotal year for the Movement. There was both tragedy and great hope. Freedom Summer in Mississippi was a ringing success with over 800 students volunteers registering thousands of African Americans and organizing 200 Mississippi black youth into forty-two Freedom Schools, despite KKK terror. Three civil rights workers—Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner—were murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi. President Johnson signs Civil Rights Act, July 2, 1964.

Fall of 1964, Bob left Morgan State College and became a full-time staff member with U-JOIN. “We were also involved in community coalitions to stop urban renewal, especially the proposed demolition along the Route 40 corridor. That effort developed later into the Relocation Action Movement (RAM), an organization that tried to get more pay for their homes and assistance in purchasing other suitable housing.” That fall he also became a member of the Young People’s Socialist League (YPSL). “At the Chicago conference, Thanksgiving 64, I joined YPSL. My first meeting was a whirlwind of ideas and activities. The right wing of the party didn’t believe in having a labor party. To keep them from gaining leadership, we dissolved the organization.”

New York & SNCC

Bob resigned his position with  U-JOIN and went to New York where he worked with New York SNCC until fall 1965. Spring 65, King and others organized a Selma to Montgomery March. The Alabama State Troopers at Edmund Pettus Bridge repelled the demonstrators; March 7, 1965, became known as “Bloody Sunday.” Bob Moore participated in a march on Washington in support of federal intervention. “We walked the forty or so miles between Baltimore and Washington, down Route 1. There was some name calling by locals in Laurel, the usual demeaning names used by whites in those days. We were about a hundred, members of U-JOIN, the Northern Student Movement, and SDS. We camped out before the White House, held a vigil of protest and provided teach-ins. We wanted the marchers to be protected by the FBI and national guard.” The Selma to Montgomery marchers, 3200, arrived safely March 25, 1965, and were given a victory address by Reverend King.

Fall 1965, Bob Moore left New York for Lowndes County, Alabama, about twenty miles from Tuskegee. “I arrived in time for the funeral of Sammy Younge, Jr., a young black murdered for wanting to use a restroom at a service station. Lowndes County and its repressive political system gave birth to the black panther as a symbol of revolutionary struggle. SNCC’s Alabama Project developed the Lowndes County Freedom Party, the panther became its symbol. Huey and the Panthers later adopted the symbol for their use in Oakland. . . . My work in Alabama was much like that in Baltimore. We tried to build organizations among the poor so they could improve their lives.”

Early 1966 to the fall of 1967 Bob worked in SNCC’s Atlanta Project. “We did the kind of organizing I had done in Baltimore. We had what we called ‘the nitty gritty bus’, a van with speakers. We would ride into a neighborhood, play music and invite people to meetings.” That spring he also had to report to the Selective Service Board in Baltimore on Franklintown Road. “I went there with objections to the Vietnam War. For me, the  real struggle was not in Vietnam, against communists, Vietcong, 10,000 miles on the other side of the world. What was happening inside of America topped all of that. The real enemy of America could not be a Vietnamese peasant with a machete and a bowl of rice. I knew that race and poverty were the urgent issues America needed to resolve. And I wanted to be an agent in that resolution.” In 1966, SNCC became the first civil rights organization to oppose the Vietnam War.  

The last three years of SNCC (1966-1969) were thrilling, elevating, and instructive. “At a meeting in the Catskills, spring 1996, SNCC changed its leadership and focus. Stokely Carmichael, a field secretary, replaced John Lewis, SNCC’s chairman 1963-1966. Many young people had turned from King as icon to Malcolm, who came to Alabama by SNCC invitation.  So nationalism became a factor in SNCC deliberations. Whites in SNCC were encouraged to start their own groups in white communities to organize against racism. Positions were taken in support of the Palestinian struggle for independence and security. All brands of militant ideas spring up in SNCC.”

In Greenwood, Mississippi, Carmichael, as  chair of SNCC, addressing a crowd of 3200, raised the crowd of “Black Power.” This slogan galvanized black youth from Newark to Oakland. “There was much confusion, though we all meant well. We believed fervently that black people needed to rediscover themselves, so there was much criticism that became personal and hurtful. We all had some white friend or wife or husband. There was much bitterness and backbiting. Our executive secretary James Forman, strategist and fund-raiser (contacts with Harry Belafonte), was married to a Jewish woman.  Many black women were married to or dated Jewish men. Despite it all, the struggle had to go on. Organizations for the working poor had to be built. The struggle had to be enhanced; the contradictions made more apparent. Black people had to gain more say over their own lives, see themselves through their own eyes. The way we went about it was problematic, but the basic thrust was sound.”

Vietnam & Other Projects

In a demonstration at the Atlanta Selective Service Board, Bob was arrested in a protest against the Vietnam War. “Insulted by one of the female demonstrators, the cops went wild, swinging sticks and choking demonstrators. The federal government charged us with injuring government property and preventing a citizen from reporting to the Selective Service. The property charge was a misdemeanor; the other a felony. Some, like Donald Stone and Larry Fox, received three years. The case was appealed; the Supreme Court refused to hear it. Charged and convicted, in 1970, I delivered myself up for imprisonment and served four months of a six-month sentence at Allenwood prison. I was  elected Treasurer of 1199E-DC while I paid my dues to the struggle at Allenwood prison, convicted on the absurd charge of causing a pin to come out of a hinge in the door at the Atlanta Selective Service office.”

Bob also participated in the Selma Project, Summer 1966. He helped to register people to vote and organize a farm co-op. The fall of 1967, after continued work in Atlanta, Bob decided to return to his hometown, Baltimore, to continue his political work. “By that time the Civil and Voting Rights bills had been signed by Johnson.

Northern volunteers in the South had declined since 1964. SNCC’s 1966-1967 policies isolated whites. Financial consideration became secondary to organizational policies. With liberal money drying up, field secretaries had to generate the finances for their projects and programs in the community. 

“By his 1966 Chicago Project, King sent a signal that the Movement was moving into the Northern ghettoes. At home in Baltimore, I could eke out an existence while I set up a project to further SNCC goals and policies.

Being dormant, Baltimore, I believed, could benefit from SNCC’s vibrancy, an element lacking in the Baltimore Movement. SNCC gained national attention and focus under the leadership of Carmichael and Rap Brown. Stokeley had headed for Washington, DC, and King was on his way there with the Poor People’s campaign. So my return north to Baltimore seemed right.”

Baltimore & Black Power

When he returned in 1968 to set up a Baltimore SNCC office, having organized in Baltimore, New York, Alabama, and Georgia, Bob Moore was a Movement veteran. He was then only twenty-three years old. “I received considerable attention by the local Baltimore media early February 1968.” The Johnson administration nationally and that of D’Alesandro’s locally campaigned for a war on crime. SNCC viewed the summer riots in urban cities as legitimate expressions of repressed rage that resulted from decades of inhuman treatment. “I seized the crime issue. It had its shock value and everyone thereafter knew that things would not be the same.”

432 E. North Avenue: Baltimore SNCC Office and later Liberation House Press

After The SUN reported Bob’s position, Clarence Mitchell, a Negro then state senator from Baltimore, claimed the floor on personal privilege to denounce SNCC and Bob Moore. He claimed Bob’s statements were bigoted and he questioned Bob’s standing in the community. Well-known and established members of the black community gathered about Bob to ward off such verbal attacks by Mitchell and his ilk. (See February 8 and 10, 1968 issues of The SUN.) These leaders included Vernon Dobson of Union Baptist, Homer Favor of the Urban Studies Institute  at Morgan State, Joseph C. Howard, then an assistant state’s attorney; and Walter Lively, executive director of the Baltimore Urban Coalition. They supported Bob’s call for a civilian police board and the abolition of dual standards of justice.

“The Mitchell Incident and SNCC’s support by leading black citizens laid the foundation for building black unity and a Black United Front in Baltimore, one of the main aims of SNCC to develop political power. This change in the black perspective became evident after the Baltimore Riot of 1968 that followed the assassination of Reverend King. To a gathered group of black leaders, Spiro Agnew, then governor of Maryland, accused and chastised them for giving comfort to black radicals. He had me in mind. In effect, he made them responsible for the burning and looting in Baltimore.

A few walked out in protest; the dam burst and most flooded out of the meeting. Agnew gained national fame for knowing how to handle backsliding Negro leaders. As a result, he later went on to become Vice President during Nixon’s administration. Some say he gained national stature as a result of my political organizing in Baltimore.”

On May 1968, Bob Moore married Sheila Lewis. The Reverend Frank Williams, a Movement minister, conducted the services. He also had a Nigerian wedding at the Soul School, the services conducted by Shaguna Lumumba, a well-known cultural nationalist. Together Sheila and Bob had two sons: Mahadi and Kahari.  Fall 1968, Bob was hired as an organizer by AFSCME to organize election wins of the sanitation workers. “The aftermath of King’s assassination led to a more militant, more organized effort to achieve fights around community control of schools, black electoral power, an end to poverty. The atmosphere was one of people pushing forward with a unified agenda for more political say in things that impact life in the city.”

Baltimore, 1199 & Health Care Worker

March 1969, Bob Moore began work with 1199, the National Organizing Committee of Hospital and Health Care Workers. Fred Punch was the lead organizer, sent down from Brooklyn, New York.

“I saw 1199 as extremely progressive. Unlike many labor unions, 1199 made an alliance with King before he was killed and with SCLC. I was familiar with the concerted efforts of 1199 and SCLC in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1968 strike of 100 days. SCLC also decided to assist in the Baltimore campaign. The hospital and nursing homes then were not covered by NLRB rules. So community support was necessary to galvanize the workers and force the city and state to recognize the right of health care workers to organize in their own interest.

“What I brought to the table as one of the first organizers of the Baltimore/DC organizing drive was that I had established contacts of leading black citizens in Baltimore and Washington. Amazingly, we organized 5000 workers in six months. Nothing like this occurred in any other city 1199 organized in.

“The Hopkins win was extraordinary. It displayed what can be achieved in building an organization. After the 1970 negotiations, the average wage of our members rose from $1.65 and hour to $2.50. Workers gained paid health insurance, vacation time, and a grievance procedure. These workers gained considerable power on the job and politically as an organization of workers.”        

During this organizing drive, Bob Moore’s first son, Mahadi, was born.  The winter of 1970, he left wife and son to report to Allenwood. Back as Treasurer of 1199E-DC, Bob participated in the 1199 campaign to elect Parren Mitchell, the first black congressman from Maryland.

In 1971, Bob’s father, then 65, retired from Sparrow’s Point. In 1972 Bob resigned his position as treasurer and continued with the local until 1974 as Administrative Organizer. During this period, Bob’s second son Kahari was born, July 1972.

In 1974, he ran against Fred Punch; lost, and was reassigned to Rochester, New York where he participated in organizing drives at hospital and nursing homes.

In 1976, he returned to Baltimore and worked for the Catholic Charities. He helped to organize the sponsoring committee that later formed Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD).

In 1978, Bob Moore returned to 1199E-DC as Director of Organizing, during the presidency of Ron Holly (1976-1986), the second president of 1199E-DC. “All labor took a whipping during the Reagan Years (1980-1988). After the 1199 strike of 1980, there were takebacks on health care coverage. In 1982, we lost the Benefit Fund. The strikes at Sinai, GBMC and Lutheran were disastrous. We lost closed shop at GBMC, During this period, there was a lack of planning and fullness of thought. We were trying to deal with conflict in the manner we used to organize the union in 1969. By the 80s we had lost the massive community support we enjoyed. Our initial organizing drives were rightly perceived by the community as extensions of the civil rights movement. Negotiating contracts in the 80s was a different story. We didn’t get the community backing we had hoped for. And so we took it on the chin. All unions, all workers lost under Reagan.”

1199 & New Leadership

In 1986, Bob Moore became the third president of 1199E-DC. It was a long journey, 26 years in the struggle. He rose to lead a workers’ organization he had helped to build and that he loved.

“When I became the head of this local, I emphasized that which we had lacked for ten years: how to plan and achieve our goals; how to maximize our efforts and to unify forces within and external to the local. In the last fourteen years, the achievements of our administration have been many. In my first term, hospital contracts came in above inflation and the national average. Since 1990,  nursing home wages have tripled. The minimum now is around $7 an hour; the average nursing home wage will be above $10 an hour after wage increases in the year 2000.

The 1990 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) merger became a key factor in 1199E-DC’s ability to organize great numbers of workers and lobby in Annapolis. “The SEIU merger increased our recognition and influence in the state capital. Before SEIU, we did not do much in making political contributions. We did not have the resources. Now we have a full-time political director. We have played significant roles in the gubernatorial and mayoral elections. We consciously try to figure the impact elections will have particularly on our members. We support a larger social agenda.”

Bob Moore and 1199 led the fight in Annapolis in the passing of several pieces of legislation: the Hospital Employees Retraining Act; the Nursing Assistant Certification program; the Needle Stick program, which required hospital to use safe needles (ones that retract); encouraged the development of a Nursing Home Task Force to study and review staffing and wages. The Task Force recommended both be increased.  Moore and his staff now lead a campaign to persuade the legislature to adopt the Task Force recommendations. 

“We have convinced hospital administrators to join us in pressing for a greater funding of Medicaid. We want an increased budget of 50 million dollars, which will be matched by the federal government.. This measure would be a great boon to the general welfare of Maryland workers, patients, and families.”

Educating Workers to Counter Low Wages

In 1998, 1199E-DC received a million dollar grant from the Labor Department. “We are very proud of our education department. We know workers must adapt to the changing market. We want to give them a hand up. So we prepare our members for the changes taking place in our increasingly technological society. We enhance job skills, train our members for other jobs in healthcare. We provide computer training. We also help members get their high school diploma through the External Diploma Program.”

Like every facet of American life in the 90s, 1199 health care workers have been subject to economical innovations. “The health care industry,” Bob points out, “is subject to policies of tight money and severe competition. Managed care affected the length of stay in hospitals. Outpatient centers have been emphasized. Maryland concluded it had too many beds, thus mergers and liquidation of hospitals. Provident, a black hospital, was purchased by Lutheran and became Liberty Medical. Bon Secours acquired both hospitals. What were 450 members were reduced to twenty-five. In Washington, Capitol Hill closed its doors and we lost 400 members. We recently organized the Greater Southeast Hospital and acquired 450 new members. So we are running just to keep up.

“Managed care and mergers decrease staffing and hold down wages. So we have been talking on a higher lever with health care administrators. We both are subject to the Cost Review Commission, which sets the rates, the insurance companies, and HMOs. With concerted efforts, we are very hopeful we can stop the slide in the quality of health care in Maryland.”

Bob Moore has taken on other duties than as president of 1199E-DC. He is the Second Vice President of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, AFL-CIO; Board Member of the Maryland and DC, AFL-CIO; Delegate to the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO; President of SEIU Maryland State and DC Joint Council 54; founding member of SEIU’s AFRAM Caucus; member of NAACP and CBTU.

For Bob, 1999 was one of personal tragedy and great elation. Robert Abraham Moore, Bob’s father, died, September 4. “Often he would engage friends, family, and even strangers on the street in strenuous debate around politics, religion, law, and mathematics. If you did not have your facts right, you were in for a long dialogue or, rather, a monologue.” Bob recalled at the funeral. “In his leisure he loved to fish and hunt. The baseball bats he crafted for his sons were the envy of the neighborhood and capture some of our fondest memories of him.” 

Bob Moore Supports O’Malley

In 1999, Bob Moore and 1199E-DC startled Baltimore, black and white, by its energetic support of Martin O’Malley for mayor. Raised hands ecstatically locked in victory, O’Malley and Moore appeared in living color on the front page of the SUN newspapers. Though many black leaders were befuddled by 1199’s decision, Bob emphasizes how the organization came to support O’Malley.

“Carl Stokes came to us for support before Kurt Schmoke declared his intentions not to run. We had a good relationship with Mayor Schmoke. He helped us to get the million dollar grant from the Labor Department. So surely we were not going to campaign against him. When Schmoke decided not to run, an internal discussion began among the local’s leadership. We wanted a more honest and opened process than anyone else who was involved in the support of candidates. We decided to survey our members on issues and build a forum and invite all candidates. We sent them the survey and a questionnaire. All showed up at the forum, except Lawrence Bell. We picked a panel to ask questions. We polled those members who attended the forum: 46% picked O’Malley; 27% Stokes. Though Nathan Irby had been a consistent labor supporter, our members by 70% chose Sheila Dixon.

“We put those reports before the local’s executive board and those members chose O’Malley and Dixon as worthy of our support. We paid heed to what our members wanted and thought important. Our union looked beyond color, though many kept uttering the mantra, ‘race matters’. We felt all those slogans were superficial, and that we were confidently responding to a felt need of a great portion of black Baltimore. Thirty percent of blacks voting voted for O’Malley. Our members felt O’Malley and Dixon were the two candidates most likely to do something. 


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In his fortieth year of struggle, one could say Bob Moore, “Ain’t no ways tired.” This April he will run again for leadership of 1199E-DC. “Our union still needs clear-seeing leaders to achieve our goals of a better life for our members. I am running for reelection because I believe I still have much to offer and contribute in building union power and a better life for all in Baltimore and Washington. The last forty years, I have played vital roles in fighting racism, poverty, and ignorance. We are in the same place, but on a different level. This is no time to change course.”

Asked what he envisioned for labor and Baltimore, Bob Moore expressed his hopes and desires. “I want to grow our union at a faster rate. To do so we must have an industry wide approach. We must leverage employers so that they do not wage hostile campaigns. In this effort, politics play a role. Health care has much to do with electoral politics because of tax dollars. We have already begun to work on these strategies. We are hopeful of more concerted efforts to develop unity among all health care workers. My team of leaders and I have become better at lobbying for health care issues in Annapolis. I believe that my team can unify forces, that we can build a better and larger union. I look forward to leading 1199E-DC towards a brighter and more prosperous future.”


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Postscript: March 2005, Robert Moore’s tenure as president of Local 1199E-DC ended.

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Civil Rights Movement Veterans

Bob Moore (Robert Moore)

SNCC, Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, 1966-68 Current Residence: Baltimore, MD Email:

I grew up in a segregated Baltimore, Maryland. My parents and grandparents migrated to Baltimore from South Carolina to find work in the steel mills. During high school my heroes were the students engaged in the freedom rides and civil disobedience struggles of the 1960s but my parents objected to my participating in anything that might get me arrested or derail their plans for my future education. I joined the Jackie Robinson Youth Council of the NAACP and participated in pickets protesting the discriminatory hiring practices of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone.

This however did not satisfy my burning desire to give my all for the cause. I entered Morgan State College in February 1963 as the Civic Interest Group (CIG) and Morgan students were attempting to integrate the Northwood Theater, less than two blocks from campus. I would be thwarted once again from giving my all by warnings from school administrators and a prayerful plea from my wrestling team coach who wanted to win the CIAA championship.

During the summer break I finally got a chance to give my all, when Pastor Rev. Herman Octavious Graham held a meeting after Sunday service to recruit volunteers to go with him on a short Freedom Ride across town at the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park. I somehow wound up at the front of the demonstration and became the first person arrested. I sat perplexed momentarily in a paddy wagon listening to a howling mob screaming nigger this and nigger that, until a photographer snapped my picture and several others were shoved into the wagon.

My picture would appear in the newspaper the next day and would result in my being fired from my summer job which I needed for back to school funds. I found myself with enough free time to participate in numerous movement related activities, which would continue after I was back in school. When I heard about Freedom Summer, I desperately wanted to participate, but it would definitely be a financial hardship if I wanted to stay in college. Instead of going to Mississippi, I joined a local SDS Economic Research Action Project (ERAP), which would introduce me to new ways of looking at the issues of class, politics, poverty, organization and power. I would return to school that fall but I would drop out before mid semester and move to New York.

While in New York I would do volunteer work in the New York SNCC office and after the Christmas Holiday I caught a ride to Alabama with Courtland Cox and others to attend the funeral of a Tuskegee student and SNCC activist, Sammy Younge, Jr. My time in New York had been one of reflection and a brief questioning of whether I wanted a life of struggle or a life sustaining job in this culturally diverse Mecca. The trip to Alabama answered the question.

Shortly after arriving in Alabama my mother somehow tracked down the Atlanta headquarter’s number and left a message to get in touch. It was a notice from my draft board ordering me to report for a physical. I did report but immediately returned to Atlanta where I began work on the Atlanta Project.

The Atlanta Project was an outgrowth of Julian Bond‘s campaign for and expulsion from the Georgia Legislature. Its main focus was to build community organization among poor and working class black Atlanta citizens as a step toward empowering this group of citizens whose dreams and hopes had not been answered by the fights for public accommodation equality or voting rights. My experiences with the Baltimore ERAP projects led me to believe this was the next step in building real political power in a city bragging about reaching a million in population and proclaiming it was too busy to hate. I would remain with the project until I was arrested with others at an anti-draft demonstration and spend fifty-eight days at the Atlanta Prison Farm. A year later I would be convicted of federal charges which were appealed.

Upon my release, I worked on various projects: including community organizing in Selma, doing college campus recruitment with Stokely Carmichael, and working in the research department until I returned to Baltimore setting up a Maryland SNCC office. My first task was to build a Black United Front. Progress was made with this effort until the aftermath of the riots stemming from Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. Things Fall Apart, the title of Chinua Achebe‘s 1959 novel, is how I would describe black unity in the wake of King’s death as black leaders scrambled to collect the crumbs resulting from shrinking federal anti-poverty program dollars.

With fund raising for SNCC efforts defunct, I needed a paying job to provide for a child on the way. I got a job with Local 1199, New York City union of healthcare workers, which Martin Luther King called the conscience of American labor movement. 1199 was beginning an organizing drive in partnership with SCLC to continue MLK’s poverty campaign. It seemed a perfect next step. In nine months we won campaigns covering 6000 healthcare workers.

Nine months after my first son was born I received a call that that the Supreme Court had denied my appeal to overturn my federal court convictions stemming from the 1966 Atlanta draft board demonstration. Fortunately the union continued my salary to support my family while I was in prison. I was elected Secretary Treasurer of the new local union 1199E. For the past forty years I have held various positions including local union president and International Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and continued my work for Social and Economic Justice. Today, 2009, I am attending the National Labor College (NLC) working on a degree in labor history as well as writing a history of my fifty years in the struggle to give voice to the powerless. CRMvet

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Archival Documentary 1-2 The Black Power Mixtape

Scarred Justice: the Orangeburg Massacre 1968 (video)

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The Black Power Movement Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era

Edited by Peniel E. Joseph

The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era is a bold new look at the Black Power Movement, a social movement during the 1960s that re-defined black identity.  The essays in this collection argue that the Black Power Movement and the Civil Rights Movement grew out of the same postwar political climate that galvanized many types of civil rights activists.  With essays that reconsider the roots of the 1965 Watts uprising, the formation of the Black Panther Party, and the “rainbow radicalism” that inspired ethnic minorities to celebrate their ethnic consciousness, among other topics, these powerful collected works look at the era of the Black Power Movement with fresh eyes.

Contributors: Peniel E. Joseph, Keith Mayes, Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, Kimberly Springer, Jeanne Theoharis, Stephen Ward, Simon Wendt, Rhonda Y. Williams, Yohuru Williams, Komozi Woodard

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Sammy Younge, Jr. The First Black College Student

to Die in the Black Liberation Movement

By James Forman

Tuskegee native Samuel Younge Jr. (1944-1966) began attending Tuskegee Institute in Macon County in 1965 and advocated for civil rights as a member of the Tuskegee Institute Advancement League. Younge campaigned for racial equality across Alabama and in neighboring Mississippi before his shooting death in Macon County in 1966.

Four months later, Younge was again working a voter-registration drive in Macon County. On January 3, 1966, after he tried to use the whites-only bathroom at a Standard Oil gas station, Younge was shot and killed by attendant Marvin Segrest. He was the first African American student activist killed during the civil rights movement. In the days following his death, thousands marched through the streets of Tuskegee in outrage over the treatment of blacks within the city.

His shooting death at a Macon County service station became a rallying point for opponents of racial inequality during the late 1960s. Despite the demonstrations, Segrest was not indicted for Younge’s murder until November 1966 and was found innocent by an all-white jury the following month. Younge’s death also spurred action from SNCC, which called a press conference on January 6, 1966, to declare its opposition to the war in Vietnam, the first statement of its kind by a civil rights organization. Younge’s death was highlighted at the press conference as an example of the hypocrisy of fighting for freedom abroad while rights were denied in the United States and was used as a call for people to refuse the draft and work for freedom at home instead.—Encyclopedia of Alabama

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What We Want

By Stokely Carmichael

A Christian Goon Squad in Black Baltimore 

Clarence Logan and the Northwood Movement  /

Reverend Marion Bascom Civilrighting

Roy Wilkins and Spiro Agnew in Annapolis  /  Agnew Speaks to Black Baltimore Leaders 1968

*   *   *   *   *

Walter Hall Lively   Forty Years of Determined Struggle 

Putting Baltimore’s People First  Dominance of Johns Hopkins   A Brief Economic History of Modern Baltimore

Understanding the Monumental City: A Bibliographic Essay on Baltimore History (

Richard J. Cox)

*   *   *   *   *

The End of Black Rage?  (Jared Ball) / The Black Generation Gap (Ellis Cose) 

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

*   *   *   *   *


Here lies Jim Crow: Civil rights in Maryland

 By C. Fraser Smith

Though he lived throughout much of the South—and even worked his way into parts of the North for a time—Jim Crow was conceived and buried in Maryland. From Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s infamous decision in the Dred Scott case to Thurgood Marshall’s eloquent and effective work on Brown v. Board of Education, the battle for black equality is very much the story of Free State women and men. Here, Baltimore Sun columnist C. Fraser Smith recounts that tale through the stories, words, and deeds of famous, infamous, and little-known Marylanders. He traces the roots of Jim Crow laws from Dred Scott to Plessy v. Ferguson and describes the parallel and opposite early efforts of those who struggled to establish freedom and basic rights for African Americans.

Following the historical trail of evidence, Smith relates latter-day examples of Maryland residents who trod those same steps, from the thrice-failed attempt to deny black people the vote in the early twentieth century to nascent demonstrations for open access to lunch counters, movie theaters, stores, golf courses, and other public and private institutions—struggles that occurred decades before the now-celebrated historical figures strode onto the national civil rights scene. Smith’s lively account includes the grand themes and the state’s major players in the movement—

Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Thurgood Marshall, and Lillie May Jackson, among others.—and also tells the story of the struggle via several of Maryland’s important but relatively unknown men and women—such as Gloria Richardson, John Prentiss Poe, William L. “Little Willie” Adams, and Walter Sondheim—who prepared Jim Crow’s grave and waited for the nation to deliver the bodyJohns Hopkins University Press, 2008

*   *   *   *   *

The End of Anger

A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage

By Ellis Cose

From a venerated and bestselling voice on American life comes a contemporary look at the decline of black rage; the demise of white guilt; and the intergenerational shifts in how blacks and whites view, and interact with, each other. In the heady aftermath of President Obama’s election, conventional wisdom suggested that the bitter, angry, and destructive elements of discrimination were ebbing at last and America was becoming a postracial nation. . . . Weaving material from myriad interviews as well as two large and ambitious surveys that he conducted—one of black Harvard MBAs and the other of graduates of A Better Chance, a program offering elite educational opportunities to thousands of young people of color since 1963—Cose offers an invaluable portrait of contemporary America that attempts to make sense of what a people do when the dream, for some, is finally within reach as one historical era ends and another begins.—Ecco, 2011

*   *   *   *   *

Obama and Black Americans: the Paradox of Hope—By Gary Younge—But for all the ways black America has felt better about itself and looked better to others, it has not actually fared better. In fact, it has been doing worse. The economic gap between black and white has grown since Obama took power. Under his tenure black unemployment, poverty and foreclosures are at their highest levels for at least a decade.

Millions of black kids may well aspire to the presidency now that a black man is in the White House. But such a trajectory is less likely for them now than it was under Bush. Herein lies what is at best a paradox and at worst a contradiction within Obama’s core base of support. The very group most likely to support him—black Americans—is the same group that is doing worse under him.—TheNation

*   *   *   *   *


The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 3 May 2012




Home  Civil Rights: Struggle for Black Power Baltimore Index Page    Black Labor  Rudys Page  Fifty Influential Figures  

Related files:  Putting Baltimore’s People First  Dominance of Johns Hopkins   A Brief Economic History of Modern Baltimore   Walter Hall Lively   Root Song  New Day Poem 

A Smokey Slow Drag   The Big Boys  Industrial Me   Poem at Central Booking      Afaa Michael Weaver at Pratt Library    Henry Nicholas on Social Justice 

Last Man Standing  Understanding “Last Man Standing”  The Political Thought of James Forman  Control, Conflict, and Change  The Politics of Public Housing

The Orangeburg Massacre and Its Aftermath

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