Samuel T. Daniels, 84, leader in local civil rights struggle

January 07, 2005|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Samuel T. Daniels, a local leader in the civil rights movement who championed African-American business enterprise and led the Prince Hall Masons for nearly four decades, died yesterday at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center of complications from a fall and a brain illness. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 82.

Mr. Daniels had retired in 1989 after more than 20 years as executive director of the Baltimore Council for Equal Business Opportunity, a private organization that encouraged black participation in business. He was also a past grand master of the 5,000-member Prince Hall Lodge, an African-American Masonic organization.

"He was an absolutely decent human being and an integral part of the Baltimore civil rights movement in the 1960s," said former Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro 3rd, who named Mr. Daniels to the city school board in 1968. "He was tough, decent, orderly and competent. He was an articulate spokesman for the black community."

FOR THE RECORD - Because of a photo editing error, the obituary of Samuel T. Daniels in yesterday's editions of The Sun mistakenly included a photograph of Charles G. Tildon Jr. The incorrect image was taken from a file group photograph in which both men were present. The obituary is reprinted today with the correct photograph.
The Sun regrets the error.

"He was the most giving human being this city has ever known," said the Rev. Marion C. Bascom, Mr. Daniels' pastor and friend. "Samuel outstretched his hand to just about everyone I've ever known."

Born in Baltimore and raised on Druid Hill Avenue, he was a 1940 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School and earned a bachelor's degree in education from what is now Coppin State University. He served in the Army in World War II and the Korean War, attaining the rank of captain.

For eight years, he taught in city public schools, including the old Henry H. Garnet School at Division and Lanvale streets.

In 1958, he was named executive secretary of the Baltimore Community Relations Commission and simultaneously worked for Baltimore Municipal Employees Local 44 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. In 1961, he attended the Harvard University School of Business Administration's trade union program.

Mr. Daniels was a school board member from 1969 to 1971. "He was a calming influence on the board during an unsettling time," said Mr. D'Alesandro.

Mr. Daniels became head of the Prince Hall Masons in the early 1960s and was among the leaders who welcomed the Rev. Martin Luther King to Baltimore on Oct. 31, 1964. Dr. King's visit, including an appearance at the lodge's temple on Eutaw Place, was on behalf of President Lyndon B. Johnson's election campaign.

In a 1999 article in The Sun, Mr. Daniels recalled that day and how Baltimore was becoming aggressive in its pursuit of civil rights. The rally filled the temple.

"They became friends after that visit," Mr. Daniels' wife of more than 60 years, the former Gladys Eva Wise, said yesterday evening.

Friends said yesterday that Mr. Daniels paid travel expenses so that young civil rights advocates could attend the 1965 marches in Selma, Ala.

"He had been central to the advancement of black people in Baltimore," said George L. Russell Jr., a lawyer and former city solicitor and judge. "He was a man who carried a great deal of dignity. He was a temperate person who conveyed a great deal of wisdom."

In 1967, Mr. Daniels became director of CEBO, an organization initially supported by the Ford Foundation. A decade later, Mr. Daniels told The Sun that his most important accomplishment had been the establishment of his clients' relationships with large commercial banks.

He also pointed to numerous black-owned businesses, including the Super Pride grocery chain, as proof that his council was working.

In 1982, Mr. Daniels called for voter mobilization in black communities.

"Legislation, more than anything else, influences our lives daily, monthly, weekly and eternally," he said at a meeting reported in The Evening Sun. "If we are not a voting people, those in office are not going to care about us."

Mr. Daniels was the recipient of numerous community honors and testimonials. A room has been named after him at Coppin, and Morgan State University awarded him an honorary degree in 2000.

Mr. Daniels was longtime member of Douglas Memorial Church.

Funeral plans are incomplete.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Daniels is survived by two sons, Samuel T. Daniels Jr., chief inspector for the city liquor board, and Van B. Daniels, a manager for the Maryland Lottery; a brother, Edward Daniels; and three grandchildren. All are of Baltimore

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