St. Mary’s County Branch
The St. Mary's County Branch Charter was approved by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (National) Board of Directors on January 7th, 1946.
"The Charter is granted on the condition that the local Branch will endeavor to the best of its abilities to cooperate with the National in furtherance of the Association's object namely to uplift the colored men and women of this country by securing to them the full enjoyment of their rights as citizens, justice in all courts, and equal opportunity everywhere."
Prior to the issuance of the Branch Charter, in the late 1930s local residents met with a young NAACP attorney named Watts who came to the county several times to meet with residents. By the late 1940s, National was filing several lawsuits around the country in order to set the stage for a Supreme Court appeal. The intent at that time was to force local and state school jurisdictions to provide EQUAL conditions for black and white school children. They wanted to see the "colored" schools improved. During this time, National became more interested in helping St. Mary's citizens since it was ideal for a potential lawsuit.
Although St. Mary's County was not chosen as a plaintiff in a lawsuit that could lead into the Supreme Court appeal, Brown v Board of Education, St. Mary's did become the plaintiff for a follow-up lawsuit filed about 1956, Groves v Board of Education. As a result of the St. Mary's County Board of Education's policy on integration, Conrad Groves (age 15) and Elaine Groves (age 17) were denied entry into the all-white Great Mills High School. The lawsuit asked the Court to uphold the Supreme Court decision which directed all public schools to be desegregated. In this local case, St. Mary's County Board of Education prevailed in the local Circuit Court. Groves appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals where the decision was overturned. As a result, the Groves children enrolled into Great Mills High School in the fall of 1958.
NAACP #7025 First Branch President
St. Mary’s County Branch NAACP Unit # 7025
PO Box 189 Lexington Park MD 20653
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