Aberdeen Native Honored For Decades Of Civil Rights Activism

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Credit: Ujen Jonchhe

HAVRE DE GRACE - Janice Moorehead Grant, an Aberdeen native and lifelong advocate for civil rights, was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Harford Civil Rights Project. The Harford Civil Rights Project is a program about the 20th Century African American civil rights movement in Harford County, operated by the community college.

Moorehead Grant, 89, was born in Aberdeen in 1933 and grew up during the Jim Crow era. She attended the Havre de Grace colored school, graduating in 1951. Her career in teaching and advocacy started at the Havre de Grace Consolidated School, where she quickly became a leader among her fellow educators in advocating for rights and equal treatment for students and teachers of color.

She was a key plaintiff in the final and successful lawsuit against Harford County Public Schools in 1964 to completely desegregate the school system. The district had initially planned to desegregate by 1967, 13 years after the 1954 Supreme Court decision (Brown vs. the Board of Education) declaring segregated schools "inherently unequal."

Moorehead Grant helped lead the effort to overcome one of the final barriers to complete school desegregation in Harford: the district's determined efforts to prevent Black teachers from teaching white students. With the help of her husband, Woody Grant, she advocated for full equal opportunity for black students and educators in Harford County.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Grant led protests for fair housing, open schools, and greater economic equality through employment. She was arrested twice for her efforts, once in Joppatowne while demonstrating against housing discrimination and another time while protesting racial exclusion at the Gwynn Oak Park amusement park in Baltimore County.

Moorehead Grant led efforts to desegregate Harford restaurants on Route 40 and supported the 1961 Freedom Ride. She also supported residents and others involved in the 1963 March on Washington.

In the 1990s, she served as the president of Harford's NAACP chapter, leading civil rights efforts for Black soldiers stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground, among other actions. Moorehead Grant remains active as a civil rights leader in the Harford community, serving as a board member of The Havre de Grace Colored School Museum and Cultural Center, and she is a member of the NAACP.

More about Grant's life, including oral history segments recorded by Grant, is available on the Harford Civil Rights Project website and app at harfordcivilrights.org.

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