Civil Rights Icon Helena Hicks, Who Helped Desegregate Read’s Lunch Counter, Passes Away at 88

by Gee NY
Helena Hicks

Helena Hicks, a prominent civil rights activist known for her pivotal role in desegregating Read’s drug store lunch counter, passed away at the age of 88 in Northwest Baltimore last Thursday, April 25, due to pneumonia.

Hicks, who began her activism as a young girl, was deeply committed to fighting against racial segregation.

She notably participated in picketing Baltimore’s Ford’s Theatre to protest its Jim Crow admission policies.

Her activism continued into her education, where she earned a master’s degree from Howard University and later obtained a doctorate from the University of Maryland, College Park.

One of Hicks’ most significant contributions to the civil rights movement came when she joined forces with fellow students to protest the segregation policy at the Read’s drug store located at Howard and Lexington Streets.

Their efforts preceded the historic sit-in at Greensboro, North Carolina, by nearly five years. As a result of their protest, the president of the drugstore chain decided to abolish its racial barrier at its dining establishments.

After her impactful activism, Hicks transitioned into a career in public service, eventually retiring as a director in the city’s Department of Human Resources.

Helena Hicks leaves behind a legacy of courage, resilience, and dedication to the fight for equality, inspiring generations to come to continue the struggle for civil rights and social justice.

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