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African American Contributions - Preserving Black History One Story at a Time
African American Contributions - Preserving Black History One Story at a Time
 

In Relentless Pursuit of an Education:
African American Stories from a Century of Segregation
(1865 - 1967)

In Relentless Pursuit of an Education: African American Stories from a Century of Segregation (1865 - 1967)

In Relentless Pursuit of an Education is local history at its best.  In their own words, residents of St. Mary's County, Maryland, tell of the separate and unequal black schools that existed until the county finally complied with Brown v. Board of Education in 1967.  This generation displays no nostalgia for segregation, but they do recall how their daily life was marked not only by inequality, but also by determination, caring, even fun.  One hundred years from now, their voices will be a priceless resource for historians yearning to understand, "What was it like?  What was it really like?"
                                                            James W. Loewen, author
                                                Lies My Teacher Told Me and Sundown Towns

If you don't know your history, you're destined to live it again.  People made great sacrifices for this country to be where it is today.  And, it's a universal sacrifice on both sides of the fence.  Bun unfortunately, our history has reflected more of one side than another.  People need to understand the contributions that have been made to make this country what it is. 
                                              Alonzo Gaskin, St. Mary's County Resident

We can best project where we're going if we first reflect on where we've been.
                                         Ralph Ignatius Butler, St. Mary's County Resident

 

 

Excerpts from In Relentless Pursuit of an Education ...

  The black schools were pitiful because we got all the cast-offs, the junk, the broken-down desks, the bench - I mean, the books with pages tore out.  You got no sports equipment. You got blackboards that was chipped.  You got erasers that was wore out.  You did not get any new equipment in black schools.  You know, the only thing new there was if you brought a tablet or a pencil of your own.  Everything else was hand-me-downs and stuff that a lot of it should have been thrown in the dump.  But here again, it was better than what we had because without that we had nothing.  That, to me, is a hell of a way to have to try to get an education, but you done what you had to do.
Clarence Carroll Smith (b. 1932)

Drayden School - March 14, 1923

  We used to get our checks once a month.  When I got married, I got my check three days earlier than everybody else, and they didn't believe me.  I had to bring my check to work and show it to them.  My maiden name was Smith.  Gaskin just had to be a white person.  So the sent me my check all year long with the white teachers.  They didn't know any better.  Then at the end of the year, when I went to carry my register - we had these darn registers ... and she said, "You're Miss Gaskin?"
  I said, "I am."
  I didn't get another check early.
Elvare Smith Gaskin (b. 1919)

Class of 1940 - Cardinal Gibbons Institute - photo courtesy of Alice Bennett

  Our teacher, Mrs. Statesman [Carrie Statesman], she was a sweet lady.  I wish she was around here.  She could really tell you something.
  In cold weather, Mrs. Statesman, and I know she bought it out of her own pocket, which I know they weren't paying her that much, would bring this cocoa, you know, and make it so the kids would have something hot to drink.
Frances Jane Armstrong Morgan (b.1929)

Black Institutes
by Janice Talbert Walthour

Walls torn down
Buildings structures
Destroyed demolished
Ruins whisked away

The spirit of heritage
Lurking
No place to nurture
Young black
Hearts   souls   minds

Though demolished
Soul filled memories
Once housed within
Bring pride   nostalgia

Bring joyful thanksgiving
From those once

Loved nurtured
Educated empowered with religion
Motivated in black institutes

Let not those memories
Be whisked away
Like these structures designed
To create success

Build!
Build monuments within
That reflect heritage
That create vision

Build monuments that
Sing praises of love
Encouragement   to ourselves

Build monuments that solidify
Dignity self-esteem
Monuments that embrace the
Strength and unity of black institutes

Dedicated to Brenda Thompson Coates and the Catholic community who supported the erection of a monument in memory of Cardinal Gibbons Institute, the first black institute in St. Mary's County, Maryland.


In Relentless Pursuit of an Education: African American Stories from a Century of Segregation (1865 - 1967)In Relentless Pursuit of an Education: African American Stories from a Century of Segregation, 1865 - 1967 (Lexington Park, Maryland: Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions of St. Mary's County, Incorporated, 2006)

117 pages, soft cover, indexed, over 200 photographs, 8" x 11": $15 + $5 shipping

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UCAC
PO Box 1457
Lexington Park, MD 20653

Mary Somerville - Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions  

Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions PO Box 1457 Lexington Park, MD 20653 info@AfricanAmericanContributions.com

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