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Reclaiming History

"If we don’t tell these stories, no one will know what life was really like"

Highland Beach-goers, circa 1930. Beaches like it and Columbia Beach were for blacks only during segregation.
      Important African American history is being lost with each passing year. You can help preserve the past before it disappears forever by sharing a story about the civil rights era and historic sites in Anne Arundel County.
      The Lost Towns Project wants to hear your stories about African American history for two grants sponsored by the National Park Service Civil Rights African American Historic Preservation Program and the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. 
     The project seeks to develop a multi-media African American Heritage Trail of sites within the county.
     “Only 12 percent of the historic sites in Anne Arudnel County that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places are representative of African American history,” says Dr. John Kille, grant project manager of the Lost Towns Project and a member of the Anne Arundel County Trust for Preservation. “This project hopes to tie our heritage sites to our modern landscape and represent the important contributions these places made to African American communities.”
     Share the experiences of your family and friends, both immediate and extended. There will be stations to scan photos, documents and memorabilia to enhance your stories. All this history will then be used to create interactive multimedia digital story maps.
    “We are hoping people will share their stories and talk about the good times — even during the bad periods of segregation,” says Lyndra Marshall, genealogist and former chair of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. “We don’t want to be the silent killer to our history. If we don’t tell these stories, no one will ever know what life was really like for us."
     Three public meetings will give you a chance to learn more about the project and to schedule an oral history interview for a later date: Jan. 13, Dale Green at the Galesville Community Center; Jan. 27, Janice Hayes-Williams at the Bates Legacy Center; Feb. 17, Tony Spencer at the Linthicum Community Library; all meetings noon-2pm. rsvp: shareyourstory@losttownsproject.org or 410-222-7792.