Guest Speaker, February’s Brown Bag Lunch
The maximum capacity crowd at February’s lunch was treated to a lively discussion about the learning process in Calvert’s African American communities throughout the County. Always the teacher, Guffrie Smith quickly engaged guests and invited them to share their experiences as well. He also shared information from the book, Persistence, Perseverance and Progress – often referred to as “Triple P” – that chronicles early church and school development.
Black churches played a pivotal role in providing educational opportunities for African Americans. Schools per se originally did not exist, but classes were provided at church. The Sunday collection would taken for educating the youngsters, for taking care of the teachers. In November 1867, a two-day fair was held in Prince Frederick to support ministers and their wives, who taught the children.
During the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, schools and churches often became the targets of resentment, and Confederate whites burned many of them. The 15th Amendment in 1873 provided political clout to African Americans. Many benevolent and fraternal organizations associated with black churches also supported educational opportunities for African American students. Buildings to serve expressly as schools were built. In 1882, 14 one-room school houses existed in the County, and by 1921, there were 21. Shortly thereafter, the Calvert County Public School System took responsibility for all students, both black and white, but the schools remained segregated. Integration would not be realized for another four decades. In 1965 when “Freedom of Choice” was introduced, the County had more black than white students; today African Americans comprise 13% of the student population.
Some of the lunch guests shared their own experiences teaching in one- and two-room schoolhouses, and memories of parents providing rooms to teachers because there was no other lodging available. We thank Guffrie and echo his request: please share your stories with CCHS!