Born in Cambridge, MA, Maria Louise Baldwin overcame racial prejudice to become an acclaimed teacher, principal and school master with a 40 year career, and was active in the civil rights, suffrage and women’s rights movements. Baldwin was the only Black woman to serve as principal of a school in New England at that time. Baldwin contributed to multiple groups and was a renowned speaker who advocated for these movements, arguing that improved youth education would advance those causes. In 1880, Baldwin opened her Cambridge home to African American students and activists attending Harvard, providing a safe space for weekly discussions and meetings, as these students were unwelcome at the Harvard study spaces. W.E.B. DeBoise conducted the weekly readings and said of Maria Baldwin: “Her poise commanded greater and greater respect. Her courage – her splendid, quiet courage astonished us, and so she came to larger life and accomplishments.” Library of Congress. The renowned poet, e.e. cummings, was one of her students and later wrote that he learned from her “that the truest power is gentleness.” In the 1890s, Baldwin co-founded the Women’s Era Club with Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Eliza Gardner, Arianna Sparrow, and Florida Ruffin Ridley. In 1916, the Agassiz School, renamed the Maria L. Baldwin School in 2002, was torn down and made anew, with Baldwin becoming Master of the new Agassiz school, one of two women Masters in Cambridge. In 1918, she became a member of the National Negro Committee. Baldwin served as the 1st president of the League of Women for Community Service (LWCS) of Roxbury/Boston. We honor Baldwin’s dedication and contribution to education, the civil rights and women’s rights movements!
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HBD Maria L. Baldwin (1856-1922)! Educator & principal 40 yrs. Cambridge, MA. Promoted civil rights, suffrage & women’s rights. Only black woman who was principal of a school in New England. W.E.B. DuBoise & e.e. cummings sang her praises. 1890 co-founded the Women’s Era Club. pic.twitter.com/objpj9Hk0y
— Suffrage100MA (@Suffrage100MA) September 13, 2021
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