A Maryland
Civil Rights Sojourn

An instructor and students inside the Drayden African American Schoolhouse
St. Mary's County Museum Division
 

As our nation celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Governor Wes Moore has proclaimed 2024 as The Year of Civil Rights in Maryland. Plan a visit to sites where these brave Marylanders fought to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 's dream a reality for all. Hear powerful stories of activism and heroism that created a lasting impact on our communities and society.

 

Civil Rights Journey Through the Capital Region and Southern Maryland

Capital Region

Our nation’s capital witnessed numerous civil rights triumphs including the March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech, the 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision, and the passage of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Maryland region surrounding Washington D.C. also has a deep civil rights history, offering many tours and sites that shed light on the struggle for equal rights. To begin your capital region tour, take The Prince George’s County Civil Rights Trail, a self-guided tour of sites important in the national Civil Rights Movement. Each story details the moving experiences of Black Marylanders in Prince George’s County as they fought against segregation and for equality.

 

 

In nearby Montgomery County, visit the one-room building that housed the historic Boyds Negro School, the only public school in Clarksburg for Black students from 1895-1936. Tour the wood-framed building for a glimpse into the students’ experiences.

Head west to the city of Frederick to join African American Resources Cultural and Heritage Society (AARCH) tour guides for an informative exploration of local Black history on Frederick’s All Saints Street. Learn about the cultural and historical significance of this neighborhood that was the center of the city’s African-American community and its civil rights activity until the early 1960s.

The civil rights struggle across Maryland stretched beyond demands for equal opportunities for employment and access to fair housing. Black citizens fought for access to swimming pools, golf courses, parks and other recreational sites through protests. Make a visit to Glen Echo Park, once a premiere amusement park attraction in the Washington D.C. area with a strict whites-only segregation policy. Tour the park to hear about protests and see a National Park Service film Glen Echo on the Potomac: A Film Documentary, which includes interviews with some of the activists who challenged segregation at Glen Echo during the summer of 1960.

 

View of West All Saints Street in 1903.

Tour Guide Dee Jenkins pointing to 100 W. All Saints Street in Frederick.

The Holland Grocery Store in Frederick.

Interior of the Drayden African American Schoolhouse in St. Mary's County.

Picture of the Ambush Food Truck parked on West All Saints Street in Frederick.

Southern Maryland

Southern Maryland has deep roots as a tobacco-growing region that depended on enslaved labor. Its history as a segregated region makes it a meaningful stop on your civil rights tour.   Desegregating schools in the U.S. was a chief goal of the civil rights movement, and a visit to the Drayden African American Schoolhouse in St. Mary’s County is a stark reminder of the long history of the inequities of segregated education in our state.  Built in 1890 and in use until 1944, it’s one of the best-preserved African-American schoolhouses in the country. The building, which rests on its original site, is a powerful monument to the long struggle to gain access to equal education.

 

Places to Stay Capital Region

Gaithersburg
Residence Inn by Marriott-Gaithersburg
Hyattsville
Holiday Inn Express-Washington DC/BW Parkway
Silver Spring
Courtyard by Marriott-Silver Spring Downtown
Upper Marlboro
Residence Inn by Marriott-Largo/Capital Beltway
Gaithersburg
Extended Stay America-Gaithersburg South