African American Culture On Marylands Eastern Shore

African American Culture On Maryland's Eastern Shore

Maryland’s Eastern Shore is rich in its African American cultural heritage. Throughout the centuries, African Americans have played a large role in the local economy, supporting the area’s seafood, agriculture, education and tourism industries. Today, museums, tours and monuments throughout the region celebrate the Black men and women who put Maryland’s Eastern Shore on the map. Be sure to check out some of these local attractions.

The Germantown School: The Germantown School, located in Berlin, was constructed in 1922 and financed through the Rosenwald rural school building program, established in 1912 to improve the quality of education for African Americans throughout the south. The school remained in use through the mid-1960s, when it was converted into a county roads barn. But since that time, efforts have been made to preserve the dwindling number of Rosenwald schools throughout the country. In Berlin, the Germantown School Community Heritage Center was formed to raise funds and restore the two-room schoolhouse to its original glory. It now serves as a museum and community space for local events.

Sturgis One Room School Museum: Located in Pocomoke, Sturgis One Room School Museum highlights the history of Sturgis School, the only African American one-room school in Worcester County to retain its original integrity. Constructed more than 100 years ago, the school operated for 37 years before it closed its doors. In the years that followed, the building served as the home of William Sturgis. And when it was vacated, the structure fell into disrepair. However, a group of citizens, led by the Worcester County Historical Society, purchased the school in 1996 and moved it to its current location in downtown Pocomoke. Today, a museum tells the school’s history.

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Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center: Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center, located in Salisbury, opened in 1994 and has since been educating the community on the region’s cultural history. The building once served as an African American church, which began in the 1830s when five freedmen purchased the site and constructed a building to be used as a church, school and meeting space. Today, it is the oldest standing African American church on Delmarva.

The Henry Hotel: Built in 1895, the Henry Hotel is the last surviving hotel to serve only African Americans. Catering to African American visitors to Ocean City during segregation, the hotel boasts legendary guests, including Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Willie Harmon. The hotel continued to operate through the early 1950s. Today, it serves as a heritage landmark and remains under African American ownership.

Judy Johnson Memorial: The Judy Johnson Memorial, located in Snow Hill, celebrates the birthplace of one of baseball’s great players. Johnson played in the Negro Leagues from 1923 to 1937 and received several accolades for his accomplishments. He even played in the first Negro League World Series in 1924 and helped his team win the championship match in 1925. He would ultimately go on to be named the Negro League’s Most Valuable Player in 1929. Johnson’s name can be found in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame and the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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Isaiah Fassett Civil War Marker: Born a slave in Worcester County, Isaiah Fassett was freed in 1863 and enlisted in the U.S. Colored Troops the same day. After the Civil War, he settled in Berlin, where he served as commander of the Grand Army of the Republic post. He was Maryland’s next-to-last surviving Civil War soldier when he died in 1946. In addition to a historical marker in Berlin, Fassett’s memorabilia can be found at the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum.

Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley Mural: The Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley Mural is located on the Bruder Hill building in Berlin. Born in Berlin, Tindley is known for his song, “I’ll Overcome Someday,” which is considered the basis for the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome.” The town decided to celebrate Tindley and his accomplishments last year, when an artist was hired to paint a design of Tindley on the side of the Bruder Hill building.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore: Located in Princess Anne, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore is a historical black university founded in 1886. Established under the Methodist Episcopal Church, the college operated under various names until 1970, when it was christened with its current moniker. Today, the college features liberal arts and sciences, agriculture, business, engineering and technology, education, hospitality and other academic disciplines.

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