Synopses & Reviews
As a border city Baltimore made an ideal arena to push for change during the civil rights movement. It was a city in which all forms of segregation and racism appeared vulnerable to attack by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's methods. If successful in Baltimore, the rest of the nation might follow with progressive and integrationist reforms. The Baltimore branch of the NAACP was one of the first chapters in the nation and was the largest branch in the nation by 1946. The branch undertook various forms of civil rights activity from 1914 through the 1940s that later were mainstays of the 1960s movement. Nonviolent protest, youth activism, economic boycotts, marches on state capitols, campaigns for voter registration, and pursuit of anti-lynching cases all had test runs. Remarkably, Baltimore's NAACP had the same branch president for thirty-five years starting in 1935, a woman, Lillie M. Jackson. Her work highlights gender issues and the social and political transitions among the changing civil rights groups. In Borders of Equality, Lee Sartain evaluates her leadership amid challenges from radicalized youth groups and the Black Power Movement. Baltimore was an urban industrial center that shared many characteristics with the North, and African Americans could vote there. The city absorbed a large number of black economic migrants from the South, and it exhibited racial patterns that made it more familiar to Southerners. It was one of the first places to begin desegregating its schools in September 1954 after the Brown decision, and one of the first to indicate to the nation that race was not simply a problem for the Deep South. Baltimore's history and geography make it a perfect case study to examine the NAACP and various phases of the civil rights struggle in the twentieth century
"Borders of Equality
is a deeply researched, persuasive contribution to the civil rights movement, particularly to our understanding of role of The NAACP in the struggle for racial justice in Baltimore, Maryland. The author points to the organization's legendary leadership and visionary activism from the perspective of class and gender, while at the same time he shows the organizational struggle from one generation to the other. This study is essential reading for a comprehensive understanding of the history of the NAACP."
--Merline Pitre, former president of the Texas State Historical Association and author of In Struggle against Jim Crow: Lulu B. White and the NAACP, 1900-1957
"Meticulously researched this is an outstanding work on the NAACP that affords invaluable insights into the workings of the Association at grassroots level. Sartain has provided a major new study on the history of one of the NAACPs most important branches that will be essentially reading for civil rights scholars. He highlights the often indispensable role played by women at branch level and sheds fresh insights into the civil rights careers and achievements of Lillie M. Jackson and her daughter Juanita Jackson, restoring them to their rightful position in the history of the civil rights struggle in Baltimore."
--Kevern Verney , professor in American history and associate dean in the faculty of arts and sciences at Edge Hill University and co-organizer of the Barack Obama Research Network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council
"This is a valuable and welcome addition to the literature. It adds to our understanding of the movement, the NAACP, and of the role of women in civil rights leadership. We get to appreciate the complexity of the Baltimore branch's activities and the remarkable career of Mrs Lillie Jackson. Sartain tracks the branch from its fragile beginnings through countless legal battles and community campaigns and for most of this time, Mrs. Jackson adeptly holds the reins. Libraries beyond Maryland with an interest in the freedom struggle and the new scholarship on the old N-Double A should take heed and order."
--Peter Ling, professor of American studies, University of Nottingham; co-editor of Gender and the Civil Rights Movement and author Martin Luther King
A study of the Baltimore NAACP branch and its vanguard efforts including a detailed examination of its longtime president, Lillie M. Jackson
About the Author
Lee Sartain, Portsmouth, Hampshire, United Kingdom, is a senior lecturer in American studies at the University of Portsmouth. He is the coeditor of Long Is the Way and Hard: One Hundred Years of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the author of Invisible Activists: Women in the Louisiana NAACP and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1915-1945.