Baltimore Civil Rights Protest Site May Be Torn Down

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It was the first successful student sit-in to end segregation and it happened at a drug store right here in Baltimore.

A participant in that protest told Suzanne Collins the building should not be torn down.

The developer let WJZ into the old Read’s Drug Store building on Howard Street Monday to show the condition of the interior.  In 1955, a group of Morgan students staged a sit-in that helped bring about desegregation.  After anger about demolition of such a historic site, the developer has just agreed to leave two exterior walls standing.

“What we have here is not only an opportunity to honor the history but also invest in the future, and so as we redevelop this block and create jobs, it will be something of great value for the entire city and neighborhood,” said John Thompson, Dawson Company.

The sit-in took place inside the drugstore.  There’s now no lunch counter left, only a brick wall and some debris.

Doctor Helena Hicks participated in that sit-in and she envisions a large historical display running the length of the former lunch counter, but that can’t happen if the developer breaks out the wall to make enough space for a new tenant.

“It really reeks of racism.  No other city in the country would ever accept two walls and a plaque as a symbol of the great civil rights movement,” Hicks said.

At a meeting Tuesday, the Maryland Historical Trust Board decided the compromise by the developer still violates a state/city preservation agreement but the mayor believes the concession is a good one.

“I think one of the best ways to honor our history is to tell the story in a vibrant development, someplace where there’s going to be foot traffic and people will be there,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

There are still several steps in this process by the planning board and the historical commission. No one is talking about legal action at this point.

The Morgan student protest at Read’s Drug Store led to the company agreeing to serve blacks at all of its Baltimore area lunch counters.

Comments

One Comment

  1. annon says:

    Racism. Wait, I thought Dawson was himself African American. If so, does this fit a definition of racism?

    1. Tiffaney Evans says:

      I believe that person mean the whole situation is a form of racism. It is bad enough we have very little historial sites up North…but to try and replace it with something the Mayor feels would make more money is not good. That is the legacy that we have been given. African Americans make a scarifice, make a difference and all that is left is the story to tell. While others make money off it.

  2. tomz says:

    There going to leave TWO walls standing. Now would that be the dividing walls between the men’s & women’s rooms?

    1. annon says:

      To which men’s and women’s rooms would you be refering?

  3. Tired of hearing it says:

    Get over yourselves!!!

    Time to move on, the african american community screams racism at every little thing that doesn’t go their way and it is getting old now.

    Suck it up Helena Hicks!!

    1. Tiffaney Evans says:

      The problem is there is no unity among African Americans so it is hard for any one to take us serious if we only band together to complain. Truth is the community should have gotten together to help restore and preserve that building. We are always looking for someone else to do it. Why is that?

  4. Cathy says:

    I AM TIRED TO OF HEARING ABOUT EVERTHING CONCERNING BLACKS,YOU KNOW THEY WANT TO BE TREATED EQUAL WELL AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED THEY GET IT ALL,JUST YELL HEY I AM BLACK AND THEY GET WHAT THEY WANT BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT SMART ENOUGH TO GET THIINGS ON THEIR OWN, IN A COMMERCIAL FOR A COLLEGE ,A ALL BLACK COLLEGE AT THAT SAYING A MIND IS ATERRIBLE THING TO WASTE SO GIVE THEM FREE TUITION.THEY ALL USE THERE COLOR TO GET WANT THEY WANT,IF THEY WANT TO BE TRATED FAIRLY AND EQUAL EARN IT

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