Six civil rights leaders to be honored in August ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

July 19, 1993|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Staff Writer

Next month, on the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King's march on Washington, officials will gather at the Loews Annapolis Hotel to honor those who were at the forefront of the city's civil rights movement -- five who sat at a restaurant counter where they were far from welcome, and a sixth who helped plan and lead the fight.

The red-brick hotel was the site of the Terminal Restaurant, where the fight for equal treatment in public accommodations began and quickly spurred other sit-ins and picketing throughout the segregated capital.

Among those attending on Aug. 12 will be the five Annapolis residents who walked in and sat down in the restaurant on Nov. 25, 1960: Marita Carroll, William Henry "Lamb" Johnson, Dr. Samuel Callahan, Lacey McKinney and Ethel Mae Thompson.

One other who will be honored will be missing that day: Dr. Theodore H. Johnson Jr., who was instrumental in the movement and died at the age of 52, three years after Dr. King's famed "I Have A Dream" speech.

"Dr. Theodore Johnson was a premier civil rights leader," said Alderman Carl O. Snowden, an organizer of the event. "He was willing to use his skills to blaze a trail for others to follow."

As president of the Anne Arundel Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1959 to 1962, Dr. Johnson worked for the desegregation of res

taurants and hotels in Annapolis and for the promotion of African-American police officers.

One week after the Terminal Restaurant dispute, Dr. Johnson announced a resolution: Discrimination would end at the West Street restaurant. Dr. Johnson played a crucial behind-the-scenes role, holding strategy meetings, choosing leaders to organize protests and arranging free legal services for those arrested.

By the time picketing stopped in the early 1960s, all but two of the city's restaurants were desegregated.

A native of Atlanta, Dr. Johnson moved to Annapolis as a teen-ager and received his medical degree from Howard University.

In the mid-1940s, when the city's hospital would not admit black women to deliver their children, forcing them to travel to Washington or Baltimore, Dr. Johnson opened a maternity clinic at Northwest and Carroll streets. He also had a pharmacy on Calvert Street that served the black community.

The Rev. Leroy Bowman, pastor at the First Baptist Church, delivered the eulogy for Dr. Johnson. "He was very active in the community to try to improve relationships between both blacks and whites," Mr. Bowman said, recalling a "very charitable, very outgoing" man.

When the veterans of the civil rights movement gather on West Street next month, relatives of Dr. Johnson will appear in his place. His friends and former colleagues will recall a man who, according to Mr. Bowman, "did the best he could to make the world a better place in which to live."

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