Key Highlights About Verda Welcome:
First African American woman to be elected to a state senate.
Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
Sponsored bills to desegregate public accommodations
Elected to the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame
Verda Freeman Welcome was a teacher, civil rights leader, and Maryland State Senator. Welcome was the first African American woman to be elected to a state senate. During her 25 year tenure, she worked in the Maryland legislature and worked to pass legislation which enforced stricter employment regulation and discouraged discrimination.
Welcome was born in Lake Lure, North Carolina in 1907. As one of fifteen children, Welcome’s world was turned upside down at age fifteen when her mother died.
Welcome bounced around with relatives until settling in Baltimore City in 1929, in order to gain an education. She graduated from Coppin State Teachers College three years later. Welcome received a bachelor’s degree in history from Morgan State College in 1939, and completed a master’s degree in history at New York University in 1943.
Between 1934 and 1945, Welcome taught at public schools in Baltimore. She was also a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
During the late forties and early fifties, Welcome became involved in a number of community groups including the North West Improvement Association and the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for Urban Renewal. In 1958, Welcome was able to win a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates representing Baltimore City’s Fourth District.
In 1962, Welcome was elected to the Maryland State Senate. Her victory made her the first African American woman to hold a state senate seat in the United States. She served in the senate until her retirement in 1982.
In her twenty years in the senate, Welcome gained a reputation as a trailblazer. She sponsored bills to desegregate public accommodations, to rewrite the state’s laws on miscegenation, advocating equal pay for equal work, and numerous laws in the name of fair treatment and equality. In 1988, she was elected to the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. Verda Freeman Welcome died on April 22, 1990.