Salute the Bay’s Newest Admiral
African American Waterman Eldridge Meredith
Captain Eldridge Meredith is the newest Admiral of the Chesapeake. The 90-year-old waterman was awarded Maryland’s highest environmental honor by Gov. Larry Hogan in recognition of his lifetime’s dedication to the Bay.
“For over 80 years Captain Meredith has worked the Bay as a waterman, charter boat captain and Kent Island seafood restaurant owner,” said Vincent Leggett, director of Blacks of the Chesapeake Local Legacy Project. “A third-generation waterman, he was able to evolve and innovate and change with the times. Even last year, he enrolled in Heritage Tourism training classes as the next stage for diversifying to stay in the game. I look at him as a model for others to follow.”
“I love the Chesapeake Bay. She has been good to me and I have been good to her,” says Admiral Meredith.
Captain Meredith becomes the 101st Admiral of the Chesapeake and the fifth black admiral.
Leggett earned the rank himself in 2003 for his work celebrating Blacks of the Chesapeake and bringing their stories to light. He advocated for Meredith and two more of the five: Cecil Burton, civic leader and educator from Arundel on the Bay, in 1997; and Earl White, waterman, environmental educator and first mate on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation skipjack Stanley Norman, in 1998.
The first black admiral was Marcellus Hall, maître d’ of Carver Hall in Annapolis, honored in 1966.
“You had to make an extraordinary effort for blacks,” said Leggett, “The predominant image of an African American working the Bay is oyster shucking and crab picking. To be recognized as an admiral, with its rich connotation, is something many people couldn’t wrap their head around.”
Admiral Meredith’s honor will be presented at a community and family celebration coinciding with his 91st birthday February 23. All are invited. The event includes the premier of the film Captain Eldridge Meredith: A Quintessential African American Waterman. The 17-minute documentary is the work of Leggett and Annapolis filmmaker Christian Smooth, a graduate of Annapolis High School and Morgan State University.
Donations are welcome to support a traveling exhibit and new book, African Americans of the Chesapeake Bay.
February 23, 5pm, Hilton Garden Inn, Grasonville. rsvp: Vincent425@comcast.net; 410-570-1187.