Frank DeFilippo: Maryland’s Slow March Toward Civil Rights

​In the dim days of early 1963, still weeks before the Maryland General Assembly would defeat a proposed public accommodations law, and months before Dr. Martin Luther King’s Washington rally for jobs, a newly-elected member of the House of Delegates took a seat at the counter of a greasy-spoon eatery a block from the State House in Annapolis to order breakfast but was denied service because he was Black.

Another newly-elected delegate, a woman from Baltimore, tried to book a room at the Maryland Inn, then one of only two hotels in Annapolis and two cobblestone streets from the State House, but was denied lodging because of the hotel’s policy of refusing to provide hospitality for Black guests.

Yet another Black delegate, a former railroad worker and associate of A. Philip Randolph, organizer of the Pullman workers’ union, deliberately dressed down as a vagrant to test department store sales service to Blacks who appeared poor and unlikely to have the means to pay. He was unable to engage a salesperson to conclude a purchase because of his appearance.