George P. Mahoney (1901-1989) had unsuccessfully run for public office in Maryland numerous times. In 1966 he ran for Governor under the campaign slogan of, "Your Home is Your Castle - Protect It". This was a clear statement of Mahoney's opposition to open housing (the banning of racial discrimination in the rental and sale of housing) as well as other civil rights legislation and became the focus of his campaign.
Mahoney was defeated, soundly, by Spiro T. Agnew (1918-1996), who at the time was a moderate Republican. This changed during his administration after the 1968 arrests of protesting Bowie State College students, verbal confrontations with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chairman H. Rap Brown (1943- ), now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, during the 1967 summer racial disturbances in Cambridge, Maryland, and conflicts with black leaders in 1968 during the riots in Baltimore following the assassination of Martin Luther King. All this brought Agnew national attention and led to his election as Richard Nixon's vice-president in 1968.
Appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 and serving until 1969, there was little in Earl Warren's (1891-1974) past to suggest that he was to lead one of the most actively progressive Supreme Courts in United States history. Under Chief Justice Earl Warren the Court reached a unanimous decision in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case overturning the 1896 "separate but equal" public education ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. The Warren Court also supported the concept of, "one man, one vote" in a series of civil rights cases between 1962-1964. These decisions and others resulted in a conservative backlash that led to an "Impeach Earl Warren" movement with signs and billboards across the country, including Maryland, promulgating that message.
"Keep the Faith Baby!" was the hallmark and well-known signature phrase which closed the speeches made by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (1908-1972). It was basically a message of hope and perseverance to the black community. Adam Clayton Powell was a long-time pastor of New York's Abyssinian Baptist Church and was leading non-violent protests against racial discrimination almost twenty years prior to the civil rights movement.
In 1944 Powell became the first black Congressman elected from New York, and with the exception of Illinois, the first from any Northern state. He served in the U.S. Congress until 1967 whereupon he was excluded from membership following an investigation regarding alleged corruption and misuse of funds. After a series of special elections and court rulings he continued to serve in the Congress until defeated by Charles Rangel in the June 1970 Democratic primary. Rangel took office in January 1971. The button depicted here is from about 1965.
Powell was a 1935 co-founder of the National Negro Congress, instrumental in the passage of numerous civil rights legislation, and to many was known as, "Mr. Civil Rights". Powell also played a lead role in forcing Bayard Rustin to resign from the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) in 1960 because of his homosexuality.
The Emmett Till button depicted here, and sponsored by the Emmett Till Foundation, is from "Emmett Till Day" in Chicago, Illinois, July 25, 1991. It was on that day that a seven-mile stretch of 71st. Street in Chicago was renamed, "Emmett Till Road". In August 1955, fourteen-year-old Emmett Till (1941-1955) was visiting Money, Mississippi from his home in Chicago. He made the mistake of saying, "Bye baby" to a white woman (other sources say he whistled at her). This led to his brutal beating and murder three days later. His killers, two white men, were arrested, charged with murder, and acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury. The murder and trial shocked the nation. More than that, the decision by Till's mother, Mamie Till-Mobley (1921-2003), to have an open-casket viewing for four days so the world could see the brutality of the beating is seen as the catalyst which led to broad-based support for the fledgling civil rights movement.
Walter E. Washington (1915-2003) served as an appointed Mayor-Commissioner of Washington, D.C. from 1967 to 1974. He is acknowledged as being a major force in calming some of the racial tension and potential for wider rioting following Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968. In 1975 Washington became the first elected Mayor of Washington, D.C. under Home Rule and served in this capacity until 1979. He was defeated in the 1978 primary by Marion Barry.
Dick Gregory (1932-2017) was a comedian and writer. He was better known to many as a long time civil rights and political activist whose involvement has spanned from the early 1960s to the present. The button depicted here is from one of his presidential campaigns, this being from 1968 when he ran as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party.
The Reverend Al (Alfred) Sharpton, a Baptist minister, was born in 1954. Though viewed on occasion by some as a racist, homophobe, anti-Semitic, anti-Mormon, and an opportunist, he is seen by others as a fighter for social justice and as one willing to take on the nation's ruling elite. Regardless of how one views him, he is a leading national civil rights leader, political activist, grass-roots organizer, and 1991 founder of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization. The button portrayed here is from Reverend Sharpton's unsuccessful 2004 campaign for President as the Democratic nominee.
On November 4, 2008, Barack Hussein Obama, a Democrat, (1961- ) became the first African-American to be elected President of the United States of America. Obama's father is Kenyan and his mother is American. Obama served in the Illinois State Senate prior to his election to the United States Senate in November 2004 with 70% of the vote. He is a member of the United Church of Christ. (See website at Presidential Campaign Buttons for more Obama buttons.
Ordained a Baptist minister in 1968, Jesse Louis Jackson (1941- ) is also considered one of the nation's leading civil rights leaders and political activists. He is considered to be the first black to have seriously contended for the Democratic nomination for President and campaigned for that office in 1984, and again in 1988.
In 1968, Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress. She was a leading advocate for women's rights, civil rights, and opposed the Vietnam War. Chisholm ran for the Democratic Party's Presidential nomination in 1972, and as the first woman ever considered at a major party's convention, received 151 delegates' votes. She continued to serve in the House of Representatives until 1982.
Alan Keyes is a Maryland resident, a black Republican, Catholic, and in 1983 was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as an Ambassador to the United Nations. Keyes ran for the U.S. Senate in Maryland in 1988 and 1992, the Republican nomination for President in 1996 and 2000, and against Barack Obama in 2004 for the U.S. Senate in Illinois. He also announced his candidacy for President in 2008. A true conservative, Keyes is most closely identified with the issue of Pro-life as portrayed on the 2000 Presidential campaign button depicted above.
As noted elsewhere on this site, W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was one of the early Twentieth Century's leading civil rights activists, intellectuals, and writers who wrote and spoke frequently on such issues as education and segregation. He was also a founder of the Niagara Movement in 1905, which helped lay the groundwork for the future NAACP and worked to fight discrimination and secure voting rights. In the words of Du Bois,
"We want full manhood suffrage and we want it now....
We are men! We want to be treated as men. And we shall win."
The W.E.B. Du Bois Clubs organization, as identified on the "Don't Tread on Us" button portrayed here, was established in 1964, sponsored numerous demonstrations and organizational drives against the Vietnam War, supported black liberation and civil rights, and was the focus of F.B.I. investigation because of its communist associations and radical agenda.
Carl Stokes (1927-1996) is considered the first black to be elected mayor of a major American city. Stokes was elected Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio in 1967, and re-elected to a second term in 1969.
Dr. Aris T. Allen (1910-1991) served in the Maryland State Legislature and is the first African-American to not only chair the Maryland Republican Party, but also run for statewide office. This was in 1978 when he unsuccessfully ran for Lieutenant Governor, on the Republican ticket with J. Glenn Beall, Jr. for Governor. A statue in recognition of Dr. Allen is in Annapolis.
In the November 2002 general election, Michael S. Steele(1958-) became the first black elected to state-wide office in Maryland. Steele was elected Lieutenant Governor, along with Robert L. Ehrlich as Governor, and at the time was the highest ranking black Republican in the country. Steele ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2006. In January 2009 Michael Steele was chosen as the first African-American to serve as Chairman of the Republican National Committee and served in that capacity until 2011.
Anthony G. Brown (1961-) was elected Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, along with Martin O'Malley as Governor, in 2006. He was sworn in as the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland on January 17, 2007. A Democrat, Brown had previously served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1999 until his taking office as Lieutenant Governor. A law graduate of Harvard University, Brown was promoted to the rank of Colonel in the United States Army Reserves in 2007. He was at that time the highest-ranking elected official in the nation who has seen service in Iraq, this being a ten-month tour of duty served during 2004-2005. O’Malley and Brown were re-elected to a second four year term in 2010. Anthony Brown announced his candidacy for Governor in May 2013 and won the Democratic primary in June 2014. He lost to the Republican candidate, Larry Hogan, in the November 4, 2014 General Election.
Buttons from the collection of Albert and Angela Feldstein
Text from over forty years of notes, newspaper and magazine clippings, flyers, and other sources associated with the collecting of buttons and used in the research of the 2003 political history poster entitled, "Buttons of the Cause, 1960-2003: The Events, The People, The Organizations, The Issues".
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008