1959 aerial photo showing the areas around Johns Hopkins Hospital with the iconic dome showing in the right foreground. Areas of public housing are visible in the upper right. Although Robinson was attending Skidmore College when this photo was taken, the strained relations between the Hopkins campus and the surrounding areas were a large part of her activism in Baltimore. For more photos of Baltimore in the 1950s and 1960s, see Blakeslee-Lane Photographs.


Document Robinson wrote as an organizer for the Citizens Planning and Housing Association listing successful approaches for community members to organize for changes in their public education system. 

Betty Garman Robinson Papers (R0157-BGR), series 6, box 6, folder 46

Betty Garman Robinson was a lifelong activist. During her more than forty years as a citizen of Baltimore, Maryland, she was heavily involved in activism in the city, in areas including workers' rights, public health, and community displacement. She had a passion for empowerment through education, and was involved with many community organizations and efforts during her almost 50 years in Baltimore. 

Robinson's activism began during her time at Skidmore College in New York with her involvement with the National Student Association. She credited the 1958 National Student Congress at Ohio Wesleyan University as being a "life-changing experience" and the driving force behind her decision to change to a Political Science major, which she earned in 1960. After this experience, Robinson became more involved with the activism on campus, advocating against the National Defense Education Act and helping to organize a protest in support of Black students in the South [1].

After Skidmore College, Robinson attended the University of California of Berkeley until 1964, studying Political Science. She left Berkeley without finishing her graduate education in order to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the south. She worked with SNCC until 1966 as an organizer at sites in Alabama and Mississippi, despite objections from her family. After SNCC, Robinson moved to the Washington, D.C. area and was involved in the anti-war and women's movements, finally relocating to Baltimore in the early 1970s. 

About This Exhibit

This digital exhibit explores Robinson's activism in Baltimore through multiple collections from the University of Baltimore Special Collections & Archives, including the Betty Garman Robinson Papers, Citizens Planning and Housing Association Records, and the Dick V. Cook Papers. The exhibit is largely chronological by organization to trace the interest areas that are shown in Betty's papers. Each page has a list of suggestions for further reading at the bottom.

Exhibit curated by Mary McKinley, Special Collections & Archives Intern, Spring 2021. Special Collections & Archives staff thank Mary for her hard work throughout her internship. 

For further reading about Robinson's early activism and her involvement with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, see:

Oral History Interviews, Available Digitally:

Interview with Betty Garman Robinson by Emilye Crosby. Civil Rights History Project. Library of Congress, 2015. 

"Betty Garman (Robinson)". SNCC Digital. 

Interview with Betty Garman Robinson by Emily Stoper, 1966-1967, Civil Rights Movement Veterans Website, Tougaloo College. 

Archival and Published Materials:

Betty Garman Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee files, Sc MG 807, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. 

Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC.  Edited by Faith S. Holsaert, Martha Prescod Norman Noon, Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson, Jean Smith Young, and Dorothy M. Zellner. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2010.