Ernestein W. Baylor

Longtime Professor At Morgan State University Served As Chairwoman Of The University's Department Of History

July 10, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Ernestein W. Baylor, a retired professor of history and former department chairwoman who taught at Morgan State University for more than three decades, died of heart failure Saturday at Oak Crest Village.

According to her daughter, Michelle J. Baylor Caldwell of Woodlawn, it was her mother's wish that her age be kept private.

Ernestein Walker, the daughter of a federal government worker and a schoolteacher, was born in McDonough, Ga., and raised in Jonesboro, Ga.

After graduating from Jonesboro High School in 1945, she earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1949 from Spelman College in Atlanta.

She earned a master's degree in history from Atlanta University in 1953 and her doctorate from what is now Case Western Reserve University in 1961.

Dr. Baylor did additional graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, Oxford University and Cambridge University.

She began her teaching career in the early 1950s at Kentucky State College in Frankfort, Ky., and subsequently was on the faculty of Fort Valley State College in Fort Valley, Ga., and South Carolina State College in Orangeburg.

Dr. Baylor began her 33-year tenure at Morgan in 1965.

"She taught me at Morgan, and I took any number of courses from Dr. Baylor. They were always my favorite classes," said Judge Robert M. Bell, the chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals.

"She had a passion and joy in teaching history, and wanted to transfer that to others. Her classes were lively, and there was always a lot of give and take," Judge Bell said.

"She didn't believe that history was something you simply regurgitated; [she believed] that it had day-to-day lessons and worldwide application," he said. "And of course, because she was an inquisitive person, she brought her depth of knowledge about a host of things and her own unique perspective to her teaching."

He said that Dr. Baylor had little tolerance for lazy or uninterested students.

"She related so easily to people - it was never a problem - if she could help someone, she'd go all out to help them. She was a great lady," he said.

Judge Bell and Dr. Baylor developed a close friendship that has lasted nearly 50 years.

"She introduced me years ago to her late husband, Judge Solomon Baylor," Judge Bell said. "We also had a longtime tradition, every year at Christmas, I'd give her a book."

Earl S. Richardson, Morgan's president since 1985, became acquainted with Dr. Baylor when he came to the Northeast Baltimore university's campus a year earlier.

"When I arrived, she was a member of what I called the Old Guard at Morgan, professors over time who saw the university grow and take off," Dr. Richardson said.

"Among the Old Guard, I think she was the best. She was committed to the university and its students. That was Ernestein Walker Baylor," he said.

"She was very supportive of my leadership here and was always curious about what we needed and what we did to ensure a quality education for our students," Dr. Richardson said. In addition to her classroom work and serving as history department chairwoman for several years, Dr. Baylor initiated History Day and was the founder and first editor of Historically Speaking, the department's newsletter.

She also represented Morgan at a seminar held over several weeks in four West African countries, and at a Danforth Seminar held in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Dr. Baylor was the author of "The Black Woman in American Perspective," which was published in 1976 in The Black American Reference Book, and the next year, published Struggle for the Reform of Parliament 1853-1867.

She retired from Morgan in 1998.

Dr. Baylor had been a member of the board of trustees of Spelman College and the Morgan Christian Center.

Dr. Baylor was married for 38 years to Baltimore Circuit Judge Solomon Baylor, who died in 2007.

The couple lived for 30 years in Northwood before moving to the Parkville retirement community in 2002.

Dr. Baylor was an avid reader and book collector. She also enjoyed flower gardening.

Services for Dr. Baylor will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Enon Baptist Church, 601 N. Schroeder St.

Also surviving are a brother, Howard Walker of Queens, N.Y.; three grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. Her son, Michael J. Baylor, died in 2003.

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