Echoes of Thurgood: The Impact of University v. Murray through its Alumni

Maryland State Archives
350 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21401

Phone: (410) 260-6400


What do a state's attorney, a judge, and a nurse have in common? They all are in debt to the brilliant work of Thurgood Marshall. In 1935, the duo successfully forced the University of Maryland Law School to accept Donald Gaines Murray into their institution, a privilege previously denied because of Murray's skin color. When he graduated in 1939, Murray opened the door for a number of African American students to enter. Most notably, the law school classes of 1948, 1949 and 1950 left indelible marks in Baltimore's civil rights work, as well as Maryland history. Through the bravery and resistance of the NAACP, the future alumni of the University of Maryland were able to continue the legacy established for them back in 1935. The information in this document packet features all graduates of the University of Maryland Law School, as well as their accomplishments in the state. Ideally, through looking over these files it will become clear that history lays the groundwork for more history. Also, just as these alumni recognized the sacrifices made for them in the past and their obligations to the future, so too must we.

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National 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.

        Standard 4A: The student understands the “Second Reconstruction” and its advancement of civil rights. 

5-12:Evaluate the agendas, strategies, and effectiveness of various African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, and Native Americans, as well as the disabled, in the quest for civil rights and equal opportunities.

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.

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: Donald Gaines Murray walking with a young Thurgood Marshall.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  Circa 1935-1936
    SOURCEFrom Segregation to Integration: The Donald Murray Case, 1935-1937
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  2. DESCRIPTION:  Thurgood Marshall, and Donald Murray with Esther McCready in 1950
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  July 9, 1960 in The Afro-American
    NOTES: Having received admission thanks to the NAACP, Murray used his skills as a Lawyer to help Esther McCready receive admission into the University of Maryland School of Nursing.
    SOURCE:  Maryland Court of Appeals McCready v. Byrd October Term 1949 No. 139
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  3. DESCRIPTION:  Transcript of McCready v. Byrd October Term 1949 No. 139
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  July 9, 1960 in The Afro-American
    NOTES: With this verdict, Esther McCready was allowed admittance into the university of Maryland nursing school, making her the first African American to walk through the institution's doors.
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  4. DESCRIPTION:  Juanita Jackson Mitchell
    NOTES: Juanita Jackson Mitchell would go on to become the first black woman to be certified for the Maryland Bar in Maryland history. She would also go on to work in Bell v. Maryland, the 1964 case that went before the Supreme Court.
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland Historical Society

  5. DESCRIPTION:  Juanita Jackson Mitchell To Join NAACP National Staff
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  1935 in "The Crisis" Magazine
    SOURCE:  African Americans In Maryland
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  6. DESCRIPTION:  Harry Cole, 1955  
    SOURCE:  African Americans In Maryland
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  7. DESCRIPTION:  Senator Elect Harry Cole Stands Guard as Melincove Fishes
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  July 4, 1964 in the Afro-American
    NOTES: Harry Cole, a 1949 graduate, would set a number of historic precedents, eventually becoming the first Black member of the Maryland Senate, the first African-American Assistant Attorney General and eventually the first African-American Justice on Maryland's Court of Appeals.
    SOURCE:  African Americans In Maryland
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  8. DESCRIPTION:  Senator Elect Harry Cole with the rest of the Maryland Senate
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  Originally printed in 1955 as the official portrait of the Senate;reprinted in The Baltimore Sun on February 21, 1999
    SOURCE:  African Americans In Maryland
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  9. DESCRIPTION:  Baltimore City Circuit Court Listing featuring Milton B. Allen, the first Black State's Attorney in  Baltimore History
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  July 4, 1964 in the Afro-American
    NOTES: Milton B. Allen is listed here, having been a judge since 1976. It should be noted that Allen was the first black person in America to win an elected legal position in a major metropolitan area.
    SOURCE:  Maryland Manual, 1979-1980

  10. DESCRIPTION:  Robert Bell at a demonstration, 1960  
    NOTES: In July of 1960, a group of students including Robert Bell were arrested for trespassing when they held a sit-in at Hooper's Restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. This case would eventually go to the Supreme Court in 1964, where the students won their case. When the case eventually went to court, the students were represented by a number of University of Maryland Law Alumni.
    SOURCE:  "State's First Black Chief Judge Had Humble Beginnings", WBAL Broadcast 2 February 2005
    REPOSITORY:  Internet Broadcasting Systems

  11. DESCRIPTION:  Robert Watts standing with some students arrested for their sit in at Hoopers Restaurant in 1960
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  July 16, 1960
    NOTES: Robert Watts, a 1948 graduate of the University of Maryland Law School, represented the African- American students when they had to stand trial in Maryland.
    SOURCE:  African Americans In Maryland
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

See also: 

Additional Media Resources

Timeline of Black Legal Pioneers in Maryland - Sponsored by MPT

NAACP Timeline for Baltimore

Additional Instructional Resources 

The Civil Rights Movement: A Lesson Plan

Secondary Resources

"Baltimore Lawyers and Judges of the 20th Century.  Celebration of the Mitchell Courthouse Centennial." The Daily Record, (Fall 2000).

"Harry A. Cole--A Piece of Maryland History." Bar Bulletin (Feb. 1991).

"Judge Robert B. Watts, 76, dies; Civil rights lawyer, Circuit Court jurist, drew people together."  Sun (Oct. 9, 1998).

"Juanita Jackson Mitchell" From Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.

"Esther McCready" From Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.

"Milton Allen, city state's attorney, dies at 85."  Sun (Feb. 13, 2003)

"Milton Allen gave all of us much better than he received." Baltimore Sun, 16 February 2003  

"Open U. of Md."  Afro-American (Apr. 22, 1950)

"The Juanita Jackson Mitchell Story." Afro-American (Jul. 11, 1992)

"The Mitchells of Maryland:  Standing Up, Speaking Out."  Washington Post (Feb. 1, 1976)

"State's First Black Chief Judge Had Humble Beginnings"

Password Access to Journal Articles

Some journal articles linked to this site require password access due to copyright and other restrictions. Teachers participating in the Teaching American History in Maryland program with a valid University of Maryland (UMBC) Library card can access these materials through ResearchPort.

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture 
830 E. Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202


(opening Summer 2005)


Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse

110 North Calvert Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202

NAACP Baltimore Branch
Address: 8 W. 26th Street
Baltimore, Md. 21218

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Teaching 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.

This document packet was researched and developed by Dennis McIver.

An Archives of Maryland Online Publication
© Copyright, Maryland State Archives, April 06, 2005