Continuing Research

Mary Sellman Jackson

In 1994, Mary Louise Sellman “Bunny” Jackson was the first African American woman elected to the Anne Arundel County, Maryland Orphans Court as an Associate Judge. She beat out an incumbent judge and twelve others for the position. She served as Judge of the Orphans Court from 1994 to 1998.

Mary Sellman Jackson

Mary Sellman Jackson

Born March 7, 1939, in Lothian, Mary was the daughter of the late Thomas A. and Louise E. Sellman. She received a bachelor of science degree in history from Morgan State University and a master's degree in education from Towson University. She taught in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore city public schools. She was the owner and president of Davidsonville Diversified Services Landscape and Maintenance Service.

Jackson was one of the many Annapolitans who took part in the civil rights March on Washington in August 1963 with the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1978 she ran for County Council, hoping to be the second African American woman elected, citing her experience working with the Community Enterprise Development Association and the Opportunity Industrialization Center but lost the election.

In 1984 she was appointed to the National Advisory Council on Adult Education by President Ronald Reagan to serve for a term expiring July 10, 1986. In March 1988, Jackson was appointed by a 7-to-1 vote by other committee members to fill a vacancy on the Anne Arundel County Republican Central Committee. She was removed from the seat two weeks later after her election was challenged on procedural grounds. She was finally re-installed in 1989 after she sued the local and state party and an Annapolis Circuit Court judge ruled in her favor.

In 1994, she was one of sixteen county residents vying for three seats as an Orphans Court Judge. The Orphans’ Court’s existence had its origins in England. The Orphans’ Court owes its name to the fact that the children of deceased male landowners were considered orphans when the father died even if the mother was still living. They were the persons for whom the “orphans’ court” legal system was developed, to protect their inheritance interests. The court deals mostly with contested wills and the administration and distribution of estates. The court can also appoint guardians for minors, although it usually appoints guardians for the property of minors. Mrs. Jackson said, “I am really, really astounded” when in a Republican sweep she beat out the incumbent Judge Judith L. Duckett who was also the wife of a county Circuit Court Judge, Warren B. Duckett, Jr.

Active in political and community organizations, she was honored for her services by several organizations and by former County Executive Robert A. Pascal. She was a member of the Maryland Federation of Republican Women, and the Anne Arundel County Minority Business Enterprise. She also belonged to Delta Sigma Theta, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Community Action Agency, the former Helping Hand of Annapolis, and helped with the Kunta Kinte festival celebrations.

Judge Jackson died Oct. 31, 2002, at her home in Davidsonville, survived by her husband of thirty-eight years, Isaiah Jackson, and three sons and three daughters.

Audio: Mary Sellman Jackson

Continuing Research Archives

Local African American Female Pioneers, Volume I Archives

Local African American Female Pioneers, Volume II Archives

Local African American Female Pioneers, Volume III Archives

Local African American Female Pioneers, Volume IV Archives