The wall was built along Hillen Road in front of the school entrance and extended past the Northwood Shopping Center in the early 1940s after years of debate and opposition. Neighbors and neighborhood associations the predominantly white city it already had qualms with the school when it moved to its current location in 1917, Wilson said. The state’s decision to change what was then Morgan College from a private to a public institution in 1939 to help blacks only “exacerbated” the racial struggle, Wilson said. It happened when Baltimore began to adopt restrictive racial covenants limiting where blacks could live: Baltimore was one of the first cities to adopt such practices.
Baltimore’s African-American newspaper ran articles chronicling the debate: College board members called the wall plans «discriminatory to Morgan College,» while morris macht, part of one of the largest residential construction companies in Maryland at the time, denied it had anything to do with race. Eventually, a zoning board approved the wall, and construction began in 1942, according to the African-American.
“For the white community, this wall of spite was to send a signal and physically create a divider that would symbolize the segregation that they represented,” said Dale Green, a professor and architectural historian at Morgan State. “They did not support the integration of African-Americans into mainstream society. The wall was to protect the whites from the blacks.”
The barrier stood for decades, even as Morgan State students fought for civil rights in the 1960s, hosting one of the biggest events in the nation. first sit-ins against segregation in the Northwood Shopping Center across the street from campus.
The destruction of the wall is part of a major rebuild and expansion of the university called «Morgan Momentum,» said Cheryl Stewart, a spokeswoman for Morgan State. So, she said, now is a good time to «take the wall down so we can keep building and moving forward.»
Over time, the history of the wall faded into obscurity, its original intention known only to a few. But Wilson said the university doesn’t plan to ignore the past now that the wall is gone. Instead, he said, officials plan to keep a small part of the wall as a historical marker where students can learn about its dark history.