Warren Q. Marr II, 1916-2010

The Directors and staff of the Amistad Research Center are saddened to announce the death of Warren Q. Marr II. Mr. Marr passed away on Tuesday, April 20, 2010, after devoting a significant portion of his life to preserving the legacy of the Amistad Event. He was instrumental in the founding of the Amistad Research Center, served as Executive Director of Friends of Amistad, and helped found Amistad Affiliates and the creation of a replica of the schooner La Amistad.

Warren Q. Marr II was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 31, 1916. He attended Wilberforce University, where he studied journalism and printing. He worked as a linotype operator for The St. Louis Argus beginning in 1938, and worked in that same capacity and as assistant editor for The Plaindeader in Kansas City, Kansas, from 1939 to 1942. Following his newspaper work, Marr worked as a concert promoter and for James Lassiter and Sons in Madison, New Jersey, as a drapery maker and assistant. Marr continued his interest in printing as the proprietor of The House of Marr, a print shop specializing in “art” printing and greeting cards. In 1968, Marr was hired as an assistant in the public relations department of the NAACP and served as editor of the organization’s house organ, The Crisis, from 1974 to 1980.

Mr. Marr and Carmel Carrington were married in 1948 and had two children, Warren Quincy III and Charles Carrington.

It was during the early 1960s, while working for the American Missionary Association (AMA), that Marr developed a keen interest in the Amistad Event and the legal history of the Africans aboard La Amistad. It was Marr who asked the Amistad Research Center’s founding and long-time director, Dr. Clifton H. Johnson, to develop the proposal for the foundation of the Center. Marr’s vocal support within the AMA’s offices facilitated the establishment of the Center in 1966 at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Marr was also influential in establishing a support network of Friends of Amistad organizations around the country.

Friends of Amistad officers shown at organizing meeting in New York City, 1971. (l-r): Warren Marr II, Eleanor Shoenfeld, Branford Taitt, Aaron Brown, Carmen Rodriguez, and Clifton H. Johnson.

Marr’s interest in the Amistad Event and in educating the general public about its legacy led to the formation of Amistad Affiliates, a non-profit corporation devoted to Marr’s dream of seeing a replica of La Amistad fitted as a floating museum and educational center. The origins of the replica, known today as the Freedom Schooner Amistad, can be traced to Operation Sail ’76, a parade of tall ships on the Hudson River held during the Bicentennial. Marr and Michael Clement chartered a suitable ship, temporarily renamed it La Amistad, and entered it in the parade. More information on the Freedom Schooner Amistad can be found here.

Throughout his life, Warren Marr II received numerous civic awards for his dedicated efforts to document the United States’ ethnic history, race relations, and the Amistad Event. Mr. Marr was also an accomplished painter and photographer. Many of his photographs can be found within the archives of the AMA housed at the Amistad Research Center. His painting, One Society, is currently featured in the exhibition Beyond the Blues: Reflections of African America in the Fine Arts Collection of the Amistad Research Center at the New Orleans Museum of Art through July 11, 2010. In addition, the Center holds an extensive collection of personal papers related to the Marr Family.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(From the Amistad Research Center archives, Amistad Research Center. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

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