Known for its colorful past and multicultural populace, Maryland has had racism-related difficulties over the years. One city in particular has recently come to be known as the hotbed of racial conflict and discrimination. Let’s examine the specifics:
The Sit-Ins on Route 40: A Turning Point
Hundreds of college students from the Northeast, both Black and White, convened in Baltimore and Annapolis in 1961. Their goal was to stage sit-ins at restaurants that were segregated along U.S. Route 40, which is one of the most traveled highways in the country. These brave campaigners aimed to draw attention to the pervasive prejudice African Americans in Maryland experience.
These students took matters into their own hands because they were dissatisfied with the government’s ineffective response to racial segregation. They went from restaurant to restaurant, stirring up trouble with white customers and confronting establishment owners who were averse to change. Eventually, Maryland lawmakers took action as a result of their campaign and international pressure to desegregate a route that was frequently used by African dignitaries visiting the United Nations and Washington.
Elkton: The Hot Spot of Debate
This conflict involved a number of cities, including the little Maryland hamlet of Elkton. When Charles Barnes, the proprietor of Barnes’ Drive-In, refused to serve Black customers, Elkton became well-known. During a sit-in at Barnes & Noble, Joyce Barrett, a white student, was taken into custody. The incident made clear how hypocritical a purportedly “free country” could be if it restricted freedom to all of its people.
Other Applicants: Kent Island, Thurmont, and Others
Although Elkton is unique, accusations of racism have also been made against neighboring Maryland towns:
- Thurmont: Known for its racial unrest, Thurmont has seen a number of incidences of discrimination.
- Kent Island: Some of the island’s citizens have been described as some of the most racially offensive individuals that tourists have come across.
- East of the Chesapeake, Cecil County is known as “Cedeltucky”; it has seen its fair share of racial unrest.
Maryland’s Continued Accounting
Ever since those turbulent days, Maryland has gone a long way. It still struggles with its violent, racial past, though. Between the end of the Civil War in 1865 and 1950, there were over 6,500 lynchings of Black Americans, including events in Maryland. Through truth-and-reconciliation initiatives, the state is currently leading the country in resolving its past of racial terror.
Even while Maryland has made strides, it is still imperative to face racism head-on, learn from the past, and work toward a future where all of its citizens can live in inclusion.