Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Lillie Carroll Jackson (1889-1975)
MSA SC 3520-13566

Biography:

Born on May 25, 1889, in Baltimore, Maryland.  Married Keiffer Jackson, September 8, 1910; four children: Virginia, Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Marion, and Bowen Keiffer.  Died July 5, 1975, in Baltimore.  Buried, Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Baltimore.

Lillie Carroll Jackson, the seventh of eight children of Charles Henry and Amanda (Bowen) Carroll, was born May 25, 1889, in Baltimore at her parents home on Greenwillow Street. Her parents came from a family of school teachers and small landholders.  Her mother, the granddaughter of an African tribal chief, was born in Montgomery County, Maryland. Amanda was raised by her grandfather, a Montgomery County Methodist minister.  She taught in Howard County public schools for a period of her life.  Lillie's father, Charles Henry Carroll, was a descendant of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. 

Lillie Carroll Jackson was educated at Baltimore's Colored High School located on Mount and Saratoga streets, and graduated in 1908.  After high school she taught in Baltimore's segregated system.  She met her husband, Keiffer Jackson, while singing soprano in the choir of  the Sharp Street Baptist Church.  This church, once called the Freedman's Church, was the first colored public school in Baltimore and also organized the first group of  blacks to colonize Liberia.  Morgan State College's also began there.  Kieffer Albert Jackson traveled throughout the country showing religious motion pictures to church congregations.  Upon his visit to Lillie's church he asked her to sing "The Holy City".  She accepted his request and Mr. Jackson made several returns to the Sharp Street Baptist Church in the following years, until they were married in 1910. She traveled with her husband, singing and lecturing, while he showed his films to church groups.  Her ability to feel comfortable when speaking before large groups came from these experiences on the road with her husband.  After the birth of their first child, Virginia, the Jacksons returned to Baltimore.  In Baltimore, Mrs. Jackson gave birth to Juanita, Marion and her only son Bowen Keiffer.  Later, her daughter Juanita would join her the civil rights crusade.

Called "Dr. Lillie," "Ma Jackson," and the "mother of the civil right's movement," Lillie Carroll Jackson pioneered the non-violent tactics of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.  From 1935 to 1970, she headed the NAACP's Baltimore chapter.  She ran several grass-roots campaigns to end racial segregation in Maryland including the "Buy Where You Can Work" campaign of 1931 that helped persuade black residents of Baltimore to boycott businesses with racist employment practices.  She also led a 1942 movement to register black voters.  Jackson participated in the Baltimore NAACP's efforts to win equalization of pay for white and black teachers in public schools (1938),  to win black admission to the University of Maryland School of Law (1953); to pass Baltimore's Fair Employment Practices law (1958); and to desegregate public recreational and educational facilities.  At her death in 1975, her home of 22 years at 1320 Eutaw Place was converted into the Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum according to her will.  The property now belongs to Morgan State Universityy, who renovated it and reopened it to the public in June of 2016.

Return to Lillie Carroll Jackson's Introductory Page

Updated: November 2001, by Dana Z. Sutton


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