Marr, Warren Q., II (1916-2010) | Amistad Research Center
Warren Quincy Marr II is credited as the co-founder with Dr. Clifton H. Johnson of the Amistad Research Center. Formerly the editor of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's magazine, "The Crisis," Marr was an accomplished writer, photographer, painter, and cultural promoter. He worked towards documenting the United States' ethnic history, race relations, and the Amistad Event.
Marr 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 Plaindealer in Kansas City, Kansas, from 1939 to 1942. Following his newspaper work, Marr started his own management company, Warren Marr Management, which promoted budding authors and classical musicians. During 1947-1948, Marr presented concerts at town halls in New York which featured Coreania Hayman, soprano, Ozan Marsh, pianist, William Veasey, baritone, Patricia Benkman, pianist, and Kathryn Ward; soprano. He also promoted author Richard Bruce Nugent and actress Mary Mater.
Marr worked for James Lassiter and Sons in Madison, New Jersey, as a drapery maker and assistant. He continued his interest in printing as the proprietor of The House of Marr, Inc., a print shop specializing in "art" printing and greeting cards.
In 1961, Marr became a secretary for the American Missionary Association's (AMA) College Centennials where he was responsible for coordinating a national program to develop interest in the six colleges of the AMA (Dillard and Fisk Universities, Huston-Tillotson, LeMoyne, Talladega and Tougaloo Colleges). In this position, he was in charge of all printed materials for the Division of Higher Education and the AMA, and assisted with editing The Journal of the Council for Higher Education. He was also responsible for the organization and promotion of the 75th birthday tribute recital to Roland Hayes at Carnegie Hall.
In 1962, Marr created the Amistad Awards program which "acknowledged superlative contribution on the part of selected individuals to the betterment of human relations especially in the several fields of the arts and sciences." Early award recipients included Roland Hayes, Thurgood Marshall, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and others. After Marr's departure from his position at the AMA, the Amistad Awards continued through the partnership with the Amistad Research Center. While with the AMA, Marr also started the Affiliate Artists program which was designed to expose new audiences to the live performing arts. In this program, young performers were sent to corporate-sponsored residencies to perform informally for their employees and the community at large. The artist typically would spend seven weeks in the community divided into three visits throughout the year.
In 1966, Marr asked historian 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 Amistad Research Center at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He was also influential in establishing a support network of Friends of Amistad organizations around the country.
In 1968, Marr was hired as an assistant in the public relations department of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and served as the fifth editor of the organization's house organ, The Crisis, from 1974 to 1980. In addition to the many articles that Marr contributed to The Crisis and other magazines, he wrote a booklet (1955) entitled The Fact aimed at ethnic minorities in the Republican Party and a small volume (1967) on his own family, which is of African, Native American, and Scottish ancestry. He collaborated from 1976 to 1977 on two books; one with Maybelle Ward, Minorities and the American Dream: A Bicentennial Perspective, and the other with Harry Ploski, the third edition of "The Negro Almanac." He also produced and was principal interviewer for "The Black Man and Civil Rights," a radio series of the NAACP. Marr retired from his position as editor in July 1980.
Marr's interest in the Amistad Event and in educating the general public about its legacy led to the formation of Amistad Affiliates (1989), a non-profit corporation devoted to his 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. In 1995, the State of Connecticut appropriated $2.5 million to cover the cost of the freedom schooner Amistad's construction by Mystic Seaport. Marr's Amistad Affiliates joined with the Connecticut Afro-American Historical Society, the Amistad Committee, Inc., of New Haven and Mystic Seaport to form AMISTAD America, Inc., which owned and operated Amistad.
Marr was the founding president of the New York City Business League, president and member of the advisory board of Waltann School of Creative Arts in Brooklyn, president of the Art Committee for Tougaloo College, and honorary chairman of the Pan-African Foundation (which sponsored the Afro-American Pavilion at the Spokane World's Fair). He served on the boards of the Brooklyn Boys Club, Medgar Evers College Community Council, the Southern New York Regional United Nations Association of the U.S.A., and the National Business League. He also served on the Art Commission of the City of New York. He was an accomplished painter and photographer. His paintings have been exhibited by museums and galleries, and one of them is in the Amistad Research Center's collection.
Warren Q. Marr II married Carmel Carrington in 1948. The couple had two children, Charles Carrington and Warren Quincy III.
Mr. Marr died on April 20, 2010.