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Verda Freeman Welcome


photo of Verda Freeman Welcome

The Honorable Verda Freeman Welcome, politician, civil rights and community activist, was born in Lake Lure, North Carolina. She was one of fifteen children of farmers John and Docia Freeman. Following the death of her mother and faced with a limited amount of money for education, Welcome worked during the day and attended school in the evening. Because of the strain on her, she was encouraged to drop out of school, which she refused to do, and came to Baltimore in 1929 instead. Welcome continued her education in Baltimore and graduated from Coppin Normal School and Morgan State College. She later earned her Master of Arts degree from New York University and taught in the Baltimore City public Schools for eleven years. She was awarded honorary degrees from Howard University and the University of Maryland.

In 1959, she was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates to represent the Fourth District of Baltimore City - the first black woman in the State to achieve that distinction. She served as a Delegate until 1962, when she was elected to the Maryland Senate, becoming America's second Black female state senator. She served in the Senate until 1982.

Significant among her legislative accomplishments is the passage of legislation dealing with such issues as discrimination in public accommodations, funding for the construction of Provident Hospital, mixed marriages, equal pay for equal work, harassment of welfare recipients, illegal employment practices, the Maryland Commission on Afro-American History and Culture, voter registration, university status for Morgan State College, abolition of capital punishment, creating the rank of lieutenant for policewomen in Baltimore City, and reforms in the state's correctional facilities.

Welcome credited her accomplishments to the support of her late husband, Dr. Henry C. Welcome, of whom she said, "Everything I've done I owe to him, he's my backer."

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 1988.

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