Desegregation of Maryland's Restaurants: Robert Mack Bell v. Maryland
In 1960, the majority of restaurants in downtown Baltimore were still
segregated and blacks were not served at all-white dining establishments.
Students from Dunbar High School and Morgan State College were recruited by
the Civic Interest Group to enter all-white restaurants and demand service. On
June 17, 1960, a group of students entered Hooper's Restaurant, located at
Charles and Fayette Streets, and demanded service. They were asked to leave,
but twelve of the students, including sixteen-year-old Robert Mack Bell,
refused. They were each charged with trespassing, found guilty, and fined $10.
The case was appealed and the students representation included Juanita Jackson
Mitchell and Thurgood Marshall. The appellants argued that the use of the
state's trespassing laws to support segregation of public accommodations
violated the Fourteenth Amendment. In 1962, the Maryland Court of Appeals
upheld the decision of the lower court and the case was appealed to the U.S
Supreme Court. In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to decide if the
state's trespassing laws could be used to exclude blacks from public
accommodations and sent the case back to the state appeals court. In the
meantime, the state passed public accommodation laws and Congress passed the
Civil Rights Act of 1964. On April 9, 1965, the convictions were reversed and
the students were cleared of all charges.
Robert Mack Bell went on to graduate from Harvard Law School and was
admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1969. He served as a judge for the District
Court of Maryland, the Baltimore City Circuit Court, and the Court of Special
Appeals. Since 1996, Judge Bell has served as the Chief Judge of Maryland's
Court of Appeals.
National History Standards
Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the
History Standards for Grades 5-12:
Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
STANDARD 4: The struggle for racial and gender
equality and for the extension of civil liberties.
7-12: Explain the origins of the postwar civil rights
movement and the role of the NAACP in the legal assault on segregation. [Analyze
5-12: Explain the resistance to civil rights in the South between 1954
and 1965. [Identify issues and problems in the past]
7-12: Assess the role of the legislative and executive branches in
advancing the civil rights movement and the effect of shifting the focus from de
jure to de facto segregation. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
from Criminal Court trial, November 10, 1960, from BALTIMORE CITY
CIRCUIT COURT (Transcripts), 1913-1986, Transcript of Proceedings, State
of Maryland vs. Robert M. Bell, et.al., MSA T496, MSA
accounts of the arrests of twelve students at Hooper's Restaurant, June
17, 1960, MSA SC 2221-12-21.
relating to the appeal of State of Maryland vs. Robert M. Bell, et.al., MSA SC 2221-12-25.
accounts during the appeal process for State of Maryland vs. Robert M. Bell,
et.al., MSA SC 2221-12-26.
Court Reporter, Volume 84A (St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1965) 378 U.S. 226,
Robert Mack BELL et al., Petitioners v. STATE OF MARYLAND, pp. 1814-1815, MSA SC 2221-12-4.
from Supreme Court trial, Robert Mack Bell, et.al., Petitioners v. State of
Maryland, 378 US 226, from Records and Briefs of the Supreme Court and Transcripts of Oral Arguments, MSA SC 2221-12-23.
accounts of Robert Mack Bell, et.al., Petitioners v. State of Maryland,
378 U.S. 226, argued October 14 and 15, 1963, MSA SC
ASSEMBLY (Laws, Original) Chapter 453, Public Accomodations Law, 1963, MSA S
966, MSA SC 2221-12-5.
relating to Robert Mack Bell, et.al., Petitioners v. State of Maryland,
remanded to the Court of Appeals of Maryland, MSA SC
accounts of the resolution of State of Maryland vs. Robert M. Bell, et.al., MSA SC 2221-12-29.
ASSEMBLY (Laws, Original) Chapter 453, Public Accomodations Law, 1963,
MSA S 966, MSA SC 2221-12-5.
Rights Act of 1964, MSA SC 2221-12-30
Additional Instructional Resources
Thurgood Marshall: Justice for All.
From A & E Classrooms.
Brown, Flora Bryant. "NAACP
Sponsored Sit-ins by Howard University Students in Washington, D.C., 1943-1944" The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 85, No. 4. (Autumn, 2000), pp.
Irons, Peter. 16 Americans Who Fought Their Way
to the Supreme Court
Irons, Peter. The Courage of Their Convictions. (New York: The Free
Press, 1988), pp. 130-152, MSA SC 2221-12-2.
Jones, Beverly W. "Before
Montgomery and Greensboro: The Desegregation Movement in the District of
Columbia, 1950-1953" Phylon (1960-), Vol. 43, No. 2. (2nd Qtr.,
1982), pp. 144-154.
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American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.
Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.
The Archives of Maryland Documents for the Classroom series of the
Maryland State Archives was designed and developed by Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse
and Dr. M. Mercer Neale and was prepared with the assistance of R. J.
Rockefeller, Lynne MacAdam and other members of the Archives staff. MSA SC
2221-12. Publication no. 2395.
For further inquiries, please contact Dr. Papenfuse at:
Phone: MD toll free 800-235-4045 or (410) 260-6401