Calvert NAACP Creates History Banners
By Krista Pfunder
Calvert County students will soon have a visual reminder of Black heritage in Chesapeake Country. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) of Calvert has created banners describing the Black experience through the years and is donating them to schools and libraries in Calvert County to teach African American history.
“We hope this will inspire African American students to have pride in their history and seek more information about their personal heritage,” says Michael Kent, president of the NAACP of Calvert.
Following massive unrest this year in response to the killings of African Americans at the hands of police, as well as an incident of vandalism involving racist drawings at Calvert High School in Prince Frederick, forums were held to address racism in the community.
At those forums, students shared their frustrations and looked for ways to combat racism in schools. The feedback indicated that students—and some adults—do not fully understand the history, power and pain of certain words. Students said that the teaching of Black history in school could help close the information gap.
“The banners contain well-known Black history events like the landing in 1619 of the first slaves in Virginia and then one event each year after that concerning Blacks,” Kent says. “These events include everything from slave revolts, court cases, political actions, the birth and death of leaders like Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr., up to the tragic deaths of people like Trayvon Martin.”
Banners were provided to Calvert High School, The Calverton School in Huntingtown, Northern High School in Owings, Patuxent High School in Lusby, Huntingtown High School, all four branches of the Calvert Library and the College of Southern Maryland.
“The reactions have been enthusiastically positive,” Kent says. “The schools and libraries are excited about the anticipated reactions of the students.”
Calvert Library hopes the banners will generate conversation about Black history.
“Due to COVID, our traffic is light right now as we are keeping the number of customers in the building at once to a minimum for everyone’s safety,” says Robyn Truslow from Calvert Library. “We are also encouraging only short visits and there is a lot to read on that banner. But remember that better times for perusing will come.”
In the meantime, Truslow reminds us that books on Black history are available at the library in the biography and history sections.
The NAACP of Calvert isn’t stopping at banners. The group is working with the health department on minority health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. A committee is working with local legislators on police reform and other issues to ensure equal justice.
A partnership with the NAACP of Calvert, Calvert Historical Society, Jefferson Patterson Park, Bayside History Museum and Calvert Marine Museum is working to further share Black history with the community.
“When COVID-19 lets up, we will create exhibits and memorials to local Calvert County people, the people who helped the Black community progress,” Kent says. “Not everyone will be a pastor, teacher, or politician, but this will include unsung citizens. The big project will be to video record oral histories, and learn more about the unsung histories.”