Photo by Sophia V. Nelson/The Merging Lanes Project
Meet Mary Dennard-Turner, part of the Maryland Park Service staff at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center located in Church Creek (Dorchester County) Maryland.
An area native. For several years she has been an active member of the local heritage preservation society. She was retired when the Maryland Park Service approached her to work as a greeter at the visitor center. She said when she retired as a corrections officer she told herself she’d never wear another uniform again. Yet, there she was, complemented by that beautiful white, green and red Maryland Park Service seal; one of the first faces to greet a few groups and I when we entered the visitor center on Tuesday.
She shared she had just crossed over the 1 year mark as a seasonal employee and is enjoying herself.
More on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center to come.
Pictured is Cheyney McKnight, an Atlanta native and founder of interpretation company, “Not Your Momma’s History”. Raised in a home that encouraged her to learn everything from Civil Rights to the Great Migration, McKnight would eventually go on to attain a political science degree from Simmons College.
Immediately after, she spent 3-years of independent study, traveling to archives and historical sites in NY, VA and Pennsylvania. Then she started participating in Living History Re-enactments, which can be defined as a portrayal of everyday activities such as cooking, cleaning, and medical care from a particular historical period. Her first re-enactment was during the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. She portrayed a 22 year-old freewoman of color
McKnight is committed to influencing diversity in Living History interpretations. She recognizes the voice it can lend to contemporary movements such as Black Lives Matter.
Today, there is a small representation of Black Living Historians and she is committed to changing that. She is confident that in 10 years she will not be the only one doing this forecasting, “there will be 20 black women living historians just in New York” alone.
This photo, shot by photographer Jeff Elkins, is of historian and author Al-Tony Gilmore. He is standing in front of event posters that he found in an Ohio junk shop. Gilmore has curated an invitation only museum dedicated to African American history.
Over the past few decades he has collected and filled his Bethesda Maryland home with over 7000 one of a kind treasures including “vintage movie posters, and important correspondence from black politicians and public figures.”
Deanna Mitchell was one of the speakers at this year’s Black History Month event held at the Department of the Interior. It was there that it was announced she had been named Superintendent of Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park.
added Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park to our
Things to do (Virginia) Freedom House Museum || There were about 30 visitors waiting for the 2:30 pm tour. I lucked up, the family standing in line ahead of me had an extra ticket (Thanks Tahima).
Apparently there is quite a demand to tour this particular museum. As one resident shared, “I live in Alexandria and the museum is never open.” An emailed response that I received earlier this week stated the museum will provide guided tours on Saturdays only, from now through to the end of February.
Public History is an interdisciplinary practice. Pictured is an exhibit panel which details University of the District of Columbia’s (UDC) School of Architecture’s contribution to the Freedom House Museum. UDC is an HBCU located in Washington DC. Students were responsible for recreating the slave pen model pictured in the 2nd photo.
Pictured is F. Elliott and another museum goer. Here, Elliott shares that he too picked cotton. In the 60s, in North Carolina he helped his mother perform the task. During that time it was his mother’s primary source of income. He eventually migrated to Maryland and is now a public school teacher. F. Elliott is in the process of writing a book titled “A Way Out” which will detail his days working in North Carolina’s cotton fields, to his time as an educator.
This is an example of the opportunity that museum’s provide for visitors to engage in discourse with various demographics. It also allows for one to identify personal connections to the history that has been interpreted
The Freedom House Museum made use of various mediums to engage visitors. Some of which include video displays, interpretive panels and artifacts. Pictured are a few artifacts currently on display. One of which is a stereoscope. The stereoscope was used as a form of entertainment in the early 19th century. It was also a means to distribute and display images captured in places across the nation. The slides displayed in pictures 2 and 3 are described as a “Georgia Cotton Field”
Archeologist, Pam Cressey shared that the state of Virginia requires that an archaeological dig is performed anytime any major infrastructure changes are made to a property. She assisted with the archaeological dig performed at The Freedom House Museum. When asked if the Civil war artifacts on display had been recovered from that dig she expressed that she wasn’t entirely sure but there is a possibility that they had been.
In 2004 The Hecht Company building located at 7th and F street was renovated and renamed Terrell Place. It was named after Mary Church Terrell who in 1950-1951 at the age 80+, joined/maybe even lead others in picketing Hecht’s…demanding that the store integrate their segregated lunch counter.
“Bowing to pressure, in January 1952, Hecht’s announced that the entire store was open to all.”