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Our Founders

The Founders of Maryland’s Black Caucus


King Lee

Lena King, born in 1906 in Alabama, faced numerous racial challenges throughout her life but managed to overcome them and emerge as a prominent figure in the fields of education, law, and politics. She began her educational journey by attending public schools in Alabama, Illinois, and Pennsylvania before earning a scholarship to Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, where she underwent teacher training. Lena King dedicated herself to teaching, serving in Annapolis and Baltimore public schools, all the while advocating for teachers' rights as a member of the American Federation of Teachers. Along the way, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Morgan State University and a Master of Arts degree from New York University, further expanding her knowledge and expertise.


Despite the prevailing racial segregation of the time, Lena King's determination led her to obtain a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1952, subsequently gaining admission to the Maryland Bar in 1953. Balancing her role as the principal of Henry H. Garnett Elementary.

School, she also practiced law, primarily handling domestic cases. Not content with her achievements, Lena King fought tirelessly for the rights and well-being of Baltimore's black community. As a member of the Baltimore Housing and Urban Renewal Commission, she passionately advocated for affordable housing options.


Lena King's commitment to public service extended to her political career as well. Representing Baltimore's 4th legislative district in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1967 to 1982, she served as a strong voice for the underrepresented. Throughout her tenure, she championed various causes, including the preservation of the historic Orchard Street Church from demolition and the advocacy for teachers, women, and children. Her dedication to equality and justice led her to found the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus in 1970, an influential organization that continues to make a difference today. Additionally, she proposed the notable "Marriage-Contractual Renewal Bill," highlighting her forward-thinking and progressive mindset.


Lena King's outstanding contributions and achievements did not go unnoticed. She received numerous accolades for her accomplishments, including the prestigious Distinguished Jurist Award from the National Bar Association and induction into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame. In 2005, the post office in Baltimore was named in her honor, further cementing her legacy. Today, her papers are carefully preserved in the Thurgood Marshall Law Library, a testament to her enduring impact on the fields of education, law, and politics.


Pete Rawlings

Delegate Rawlings, born in Baltimore on March 17, 1937, had a remarkable life marked by significant achievements and contributions.

Growing up in the segregated Poe Homes public housing project, he faced adversity from an early age. However, Rawlings defied the odds and graduated from Douglass High School in 1954. He went on to pursue higher education, earning a B.S. in mathematics from Morgan State College and an M.S. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Rawlings furthered his academic pursuits by completing Ph.D. coursework at the University of Maryland.


Rawlings' passion for education led him to serve as a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In 1979, he embarked on a political career, becoming a member of Maryland's House of Delegates. Notably, Rawlings assumed the position of chairman of the Appropriations Committee in 1992, where he focused on reforming inner-city public schools and holding Baltimore school officials accountable. He was also a staunch advocate against racial profiling, co-sponsoring legislation to ban it in Maryland. Additionally, Rawlings fought against the expansion of Maryland Lottery drawings to Sundays.


Rawlings left a lasting impact on the cultural landscape of Maryland. He played a crucial role in securing funding for the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. His dedication to public service extended beyond legislation, as he served on various boards and task forces related to education, housing, and governance. 


Throughout his career, Rawlings received recognition for his tireless efforts. Shortly before his death in 2003, he was honored with the National Education Policy Leader of the Year award. Today, Rawlings' contributions continue to be commemorated through the naming of buildings and programs in his honor. It is worth mentioning that his daughter, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, followed in his footsteps and became the Mayor of Baltimore. The legacy of Delegate Rawlings lives on, and his impact on education, legislation, and community development remains an important part of Maryland's history.


F. Brailey

Troy F. Brailey, born on August 21, 1916, in Lynchburg, South Carolina, had an impressive career that left a lasting impact. As a former executive of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Brailey was well-versed in the struggles and importance of organized labor. However, his most significant contributions came through his involvement in the civil rights movement. Serving as the representative for West Baltimore in the Maryland General Assembly for 24 years, Brailey was a staunch supporter of civil rights and equality.


Brailey played an instrumental role in organizing significant events in the civil rights movement. He was the state chairman for the 1963 March on Washington, a pivotal moment in American history. Additionally, he served as an organizer for the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage to Washington and held the position of state chairman for the 1958 and 1959 youth marches to Washington.


While Brailey strongly advocated for the rights of workers and was a devoted union man, he made it clear that he opposed any discrimination faced by Black individuals, whether it came from unions or companies. In his efforts to combat racial discrimination, he actively worked to secure the inclusion of black firefighters in the union.


Troy F. Brailey's dedication to the civil rights movement and his unwavering support for organized labor have left a profound legacy. His contributions have helped shape the fight for equality, and his efforts continue to be recognized and celebrated to this day.

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