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Hairspray in Context: Race, Rock 'n Roll and Baltimore   Tags: special collections  

An online examination of the real events that inspired the John Waters movie and musical.
Last Updated: Oct 5, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Things Were Changing: A Time Line of Baltimore and National Civil Rights Events



  • 7% Black Baltimore students attend integrated schools.
  • Baltimore department stores allow blacks to try on clothes.
  • Baltimore Sun front page series The City We Live In, exposing injustices to black Baltimoreans.
  • Baltimore City Council authorized publication of A CITY IN TRANSITION supporting civil rights efforts.
  • Governor McKeldin ends segregation in the National Guard.
  • Dawson v. Baltimore City, 220 F.2d 386 (4th Cir. Md. 1955) federal court orders Baltimore to desegregate public swimming pools and the Supreme Court affirms (Baltimore City v. Dawson, 350 U.S. 877(1955)).
  • CORE pickets Gwynn Oak Amusement Park for the first time.
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott.


  • 14% Black Baltimore students attend integrated schools.
  • Baltimore City Equal Employment Ordinance - no enforcement mechanism.
  • Governor McKeldin ends separate listings for black and white applicants for state jobs.


  • 26% Black Baltimore students attend integrated schools.
  • Sheraton Belvedere becomes the first Baltimore hotel to admit black customers.
  • The Buddy Deane Show first airs on WJZ-TV in Baltimore.
  • Congress enacts the 1957 Civil Rights Act, the first modern legislation designed to enforce the right to vote in federal elections.
  • President Eisenhower send federal troops to Little Rock Arkansas to enforce desegregation of Central High School.


  • Most Baltimore movie theaters open to black customers.
  • Most Baltimore first-class hotels accommodate blacks.


  • Sit-ins at Northwood Shopping Center lunch counters by students from Morgan State College, Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College.
  • Sit-in at Hooper's Restaurant in downtown Baltimore by Morgan State and black high school students results in the arrest conviction of demonstrators (Maryland v. Bell). ("Legal History of the Great Sit-in Case" by Prof. William Reynolds)
  • Other sit-in demonstrations at area restaurants.
  • Congress enacts the 1960 Civil Rights Act reaching voting discrimination in state elections.


  • Green v State, 225 Md 422 (1961) arrest and conviction of civil rights protesters at Glen Echo Amusement Park affirmed by the Maryland Court of Appeals.
  • AFRO AMERICAN newspaper reporter George Collins dons African diplomatic garb to get service at a Fayette Street restaurant.
  • Freedom rides along Route 40 to desegregate public accommodations.
  • NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall nominated by President John Kennedy to the U.S. Court of appeals for the Second Circuit.


  • Setting for Hairspray the musical [with 1963 just around the corner].
  • Bell v. Maryland, 227 Md 302 (1962) the Court of Appeals uphold the conviction of high school and college students including the named plaintiff Robert Bell, now chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, for trying to integrate Hooper's Restaurant.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King speaks to 3,5000 people at Willard W. Allen Masonic Temple urging continued non-violence demonstrations opposing segregation.
  • President Kennedy orders federal marshals to escort James Meredith, the first black student to be permitted to enroll at the University of Mississippi.


  • Protest organized by white and black ministers against Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Baltimore County for excluding blacks with mass arrests.
  • Northwood Movie Theatre admits black patrons after eight years of protest.
  • General Assembly enacts an open accommodations law, outlawing race-based segregation in restaurants, hotels, theaters, stores, beaches and recreational facilities - but the law only applies to Baltimore and twelve of the state's twenty-three counties.
  • An estimated 250,000 people join in the March on Washington, where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his famous I Have a Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.


  • The Buddy Deane show cancelled.
  • Maryland General Assembly extends open accommodations law to the entire state.
  • U.S. Congress enacts the 1964 Civil Rights Act, prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations and employment.
  • Griffin v. Maryland , 378 U.S. 130 (1964) (arrests of Glen Echo Amusement Park demonstrators reverses Green case).

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