View these “Story Project” Videos to learn about African American Heritage Sites to Visit

February 15, 2022

Have you heard of the Four Rivers Heritage Story Project? Five of the videos focus on important African American stories of our history and heritage, told by individuals who lived that history. Once you view the videos, you will want to visit the related sites, to learn more.

Video with Tony Spencer, about Freetown:

Tony Spencer was born and educated in Anne Arundel County. A renowned performing and vocal recording artist, composer, poet, model and storyteller, Tony was surprised to discover the impact his great great grandfather, James Spencer, had in founding this important community as a safe haven for African-Americans in our community.  This is Tony’s story of discovering his family’s ties to Freetown and the significance that it has in our history and the heritage of our area.

Learn more at Northern Arundel Cultural Preservation Society, Inc.: CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE

Video about Sharyn Martin, on the African-American Meeting House (1895) at the Herrington Harbour North Historic Village

Sharyn Martin is a docent and member of the Deale Area Historical Society.   When she discovered the African-American Meeting House (1895) at the Herrington Harbour North Historic Village, it became especially close to her because of the significance of that building in the African-American community in the Deale area.  This is Sharyn’s story of the special place this building has in our history and the heritage that is still relevant today.

Click Here To Learn More

Video about Ben Secundy of Highland Beach:

Ben Secundy grew up in the community of Highland Beach. The experience so profoundly impacted him that now he is the volunteer Highland Beach Commissioner and docent at the Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center located in Highland Beach. This is Ben’s story and some of the history of Highland Beach.  In 1892, Major Charles Douglass, youngest son of Frederick Douglass, and Charles’ wife Laura, were turned away from a restaurant at the Bay Ridge Resort and Amusement Park because of their race. In the spring of 1893, they settled on the purchase of twenty-six and two-thirds acres of the land adjacent to that same property (across a small inlet), that would become Highland Beach. The Town of Highland Beach became a gathering place and beachfront community for educated African Americans, and hosted visits by many well-known African Americans of the day, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and more.

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Video about Pamela Browne of the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center:

The Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center and Memorial are part of a $27 million dollar complex called The Wiley H. Bates Heritage Park which opened in a public celebration, September 2006. Pamela Browne, longtime volunteer and now Executive Director, shares her story about what drew her here which started with her fathers attendance as a high school student. The Legacy Center is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of Wiley H. Bates High School, formerly (1932 to 1966) the only high school for African Americans in Anne Arundel County. It is a unique cultural arts heritage center displaying historical documents and collections that preserve the African American experience.

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Video about Gertrude Makell of the Galesville Community Center:

Gertrude Makell is Director of Galesville Community Center, and one of the first students to voluntarily integrate Southern High School when she was a teenager in South County Maryland.

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The Four Rivers Heritage Area is very proud of the Four Rivers Heritage: Story Project. We secured funding from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) to tell the powerful stories of the volunteers who work at our heritage sites, to discover how and why they do what they do, knowing that our history is critical to understanding our future.

We asked our partners to “tell us your story — tell us WHY you devote your time, your dedication, your donation dollars to Heritage Area sites; we are seeking the untold stories in the Four Rivers Heritage Area that reveal critical history and heritage insights that should not be forgotten!”