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Learn About Black Secret Societies

At Calvert Library Prince Frederick

After throwing off the shackles of slavery, many blacks in Maryland continued to struggle to meet the most basic needs. The changing face of America meant learning to rely on each other and not the master of a plantation farm. Because of this need, benevolent organizations, or secret societies, were formed.
    The Black Secret Societies of Calvert County exhibit at Calvert Library documents the early days of these groups. Regarded as some of the most durable institutions in black communities, groups such as the Order of The Society of Galilean Fishermen, The Grand United Order of The Odd Fellows and The Prince Hall Freemasons formed to help the black community with expenses for funerals, education and medical care. Many borrowed symbolism and rituals from the Scottish Rite Masonry.
    These groups contributed time and resources to improve the lives of their descendants. The Rosenwald School for blacks in Calvert County was built on land originally purchased by The Galilean Fishermen.
    Michael Kent, a commissioner with the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, dug into his personal legacy to research the topic. A native of Calvert County, Kent traces his ancestry to the 1780s. With a tradition of oral histories to direct his research, he documented the legacy of his great-grandparents who served in these civic organizations.
    The exhibit runs through the end of the month. On display through March is ­Contributions of the Negro Leagues to Baseball. Calvert Library, Prince Frederick: 410-535-0291.