Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has appointed Iris Leigh Barnes to a four-year term with the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. Barnes is the curator of Morgan State University’s Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum (LCJM). Her appointment to the commission is slated to be confirmed by the Maryland State Senate during the 2018 legislative session. Barnes joins another Morgan administrator, Edwin T. Johnson, Ph.D., who was appointed to the commission in 2016.
The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture is committed to discovering, documenting, preserving, collecting and promoting Maryland’s African-American heritage. Its goal is to educate residents and visitors about the significance and impact of the African-American experience in Maryland. The commission is part of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives.
“It is an honor and a pleasure to work with the historical and cultural institutions in Maryland to help them advance their missions to preserve the rich history of our state,” Barnes said. “Much of what happened in Maryland reverberated across the country. Much of the work of Baltimore’s NAACP, led by Lillie Carroll Jackson and her allies, made an impact on regional and national events.”
The LCJM, located on Eutaw Street in Baltimore City, tells the story of Lillie Jackson and her many fellow freedom fighters, such as Marylanders Thurgood Marshall, Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., Juanita Jackson Mitchell and Margaret Carey, and their work to eliminate racial inequality. In June of 2016, the University reopened the museum after undergoing a$3 million restoration. Barnes is also the executive director of Hosanna School Museum in Darlington, Md. The restored Freedmen’s Bureau School, founded in 1867, was the first public school for African Americans in Harford County.
Barnes has received several national and local awards, including being named an inaugural Interpretation Fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Association of Interpreters; a two-time Diversity Fellow for the National Trust for Historical Preservation; and a Wing Research Fellow at the Maryland Historical Society. This past fall, the LCJM benefited from her work as a grant conceiver and writer, when the National Park Service awarded the museum nearly $50,000 to support an oral history project: “1320 Eutaw Place: Lillie Carroll Jackson’s Home for Freedom.”
Barnes earned her master’s degree in museum studies and historical preservation from Morgan and is also completing her doctorate in history at MSU.