This Week In History
JOSEPH DILL BAKER
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in which several hundred thousand people from across the U.S. came to Washington DC to heroically demand civil rights for African Americans. The effort along with others that were occurring at the time, ultimately resulted in President Johnson’s signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Frederick has had its share of civil rights heroes over the years – of all races. Among the many was Joseph Dill Baker, who was born in 1854. Baker, a banker, who established Citizens National Bank, is known for contributing land and helping to obtain the needed parcels for what would become the city’s municipal park, later named Baker Park, in his honor. He also had major leadership roles in having Frederick’s cobblestone streets first paved and the construction of the first YMCA building.
His care and philanthropy extended to all. In the days of segregation, his substantial financial gift helped to pay for the construction of a wing at Frederick City Hospital (FMH) where African Americans could be treated for the first time. Because the segregation laws of the day restricted African Americans from using the municipal park, he contributed land for Mullinex Park, off of West All Saints Street, and later, funding for the swimming pool there – so that all Frederick residents could enjoy parkland and aquatic recreation.
Learn more about the many Frederick citizens who shaped American history on the Frederick Walking Tour, available as an app or as a DVD at itourfrederick.com