Fifty-two years ago amid uprisings across the nation following the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Verda Freeman Welcome, Maryland’s first African American female senator, introduced legislation to create a commission to initiate, direct and coordinate projects that furthered the understanding of Black history and culture. With renowned historian and Morgan State professor Dr. Benjamin Arthur Quarles as its inaugural chair, the now Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC) was established as the nation’s first ethnic commission.

Today, the MCAAHC continues to lead in preserving, promoting, documenting and protecting African American history and culture across the state of Maryland. Yet, the deaths of Freddie Gray, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Anton Black, Jonathan Price, Breonna Taylor, and the unjust shooting and maiming of Jacob Blake among countless more, propelled us to include to that mandate – the preservation of Black lives by doing more to explicitly promote racial equity
and justice. This desire was enhanced by joining forces with the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the nation’s first commission charged with chronicling and bringing justice to the descendants and communities still impacted by racial terror lynchings.