The Verda Freeman Welcome bridge was recently re-dedicated at Morgan State Univeristy. Welcome, the first Black woman to serve in Maryland’s House of Delegate and State Senate, was profiled by the AFRO in 1967. That story is below:
April 1, 1967
Mrs. Verda Freeman Welcome, school teacher-turned-politician, speaks for 68,693 persons in the Legislature.
As state senator from Baltimore’s Fourth Legislative District, she controls a large number of state patronage jobs and appointments that are passed out through senators of the various districts.
Located in the heart of Northwest Baltimore, her Fourth District is made up of 91 percents of six wards.
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Of the 68,693 registered voters there, 53,681 are Democrats, like Sen. Welcome.
Republicans number 13,180, while another 945 are registered as Independents or “others.”
Of the total 74.4 percent or 51,121 are colored as of Sept. 1, 1966.
There are 38,940 colored Democrats and 11,545 colored Republicans.
Mrs. Welcome’s political career followed years of civic work including participation in voter registration.
Having abandoned her 11-year teaching career in Baltimore’s public school system she won a seat in the House of Delegates of 1958, her maiden effort to win election to public office.
During her first year in the Legislature, Sen. Welcome led the fight for passage of the Public Accommodations law.
She co-sponsored a bill which netted a $4,800,000 state and city grant for the new Provident Hospital.
On the basis of her successful record in the House, plus a strenuous campaign in 1962, she won a seat in the Senate.
One of Four
This is her second four year term in the senate. The lady senator is one of four women among a total of 43 state senators.
Others are Mrs. Mary Nock, Miss Louise Gore and Mrs. Mary Schweinhaut, all from Maryland counties.
Under provisions of a reapportioned General Assembly the Fourth District was allotted Senators.
A strong supporter of apportionment, Mrs. Welcome has been joined by Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell 3rd.
Other legislative successes credited to Sen. Welcome include:
Obtaining funds for improvements at Morgan State College;
A Law requiring the state to pay $10 for each day a person is wrongfully imprisoned;
An investigation into high finance changes on motor vehicle insurance; and
Abolition of a 300-year-old state law barring marriages between whites and non-whites.
The Lady Senator is now hoping for another major success – passage of a strong open housing law.
Once a farm-girl, Sen. Welcome’s early education was in the public schools of her native North Carolina.
Coming to Baltimore in 1929, she later earned a diploma from Coppin State College and a B.S. degree from Morgan.
The impeccably-clad senator earned a Master of Arts degree from New York University.
Another dimension of the energetic office holder is that of housewife.
She is married to a prominent physician, Dr. Henry C. Welcome.
Their daughter, Mary Sue, 23, is a freshman law school student at Howard University.
Senator Welcome has been called “Mrs. Civil Rights” by New York’s Adam Clayton Powell.
Honors and citations she has received would fill a volume.
The list of organizations in which she holds memberships would fill another.
A few include President Johnson’s Citizens’ Committee for Community Relations, Board of Governors, Fourth District Democratic Organization; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and life member of the NAACP.
Mrs. Welcome founded the Fourth District Organization and the Valiant Women’s Democratic Club.
Much of her support has come from women voters. Two years ago she was the target of a would-be assassin’s bullets.
Despite superficial wounds, the senator continued her normal activities under constant police guard.
A rigid schedule allows little time for other, unrelated activities.
On rare periods of relaxation the legislator indulges in sociable card games, reading or the arts.
For her legislative appearances Mrs. Welcome dresses immaculately, but without flair.
She drives the 60 miles a day to and from Annapolis, seat of the Legislature.
This year sessions were extended to 70 days, often running from morning until night.
Despite the great physical demands, the senator derives much satisfaction from her work.
“The greatest,” she said, “comes from my being given the opportunity to serve my people.”
A veteran legislator, who has often witnessed and sometimes opposed the Welcome view, described the senator this way.
“When she has a bill to put across, she can talk you to death. She pleads, shouts, and even threatens to oppose your bills. When all else fails, she bursts out in tears. Just what in H— is a man supposed to do?”