Local History Groups :: Lead Systemic Change

A Statement from Montgomery History
June 4, 2020
Montgomery History expresses its sincere condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others in our country who have lost loved ones and suffered from systemic racism. As an organization we are committed to using local history to build safer, more welcoming communities. We believe understanding and coming to terms with our history, including acknowledging past and present injustices, will help us move forward and realize the full potential of all the people who call Montgomery County, Maryland home.
Exploring our shared history, and the assumptions embedded within it, exposes a painful truth: the ideology of white supremacy did not die with the abolition of slavery. It festered and assumed new forms: Jim Crow laws, white terror lynchings, “separate but equal” practices, mass incarceration of African American men, housing discrimination, voter suppression, and violence against people of color. We must acknowledge that institutions traditionally associated with cultural memory, such as ours, have contributed to and supported white supremacist narratives in the past. So while some of the institutional structures of racism have been partially mitigated by legal rules, the root problem persists.
Montgomery History will continue to forge a new, more inclusive narrative that celebrates diversity and provides a platform for all voices to be heard. We ask that you join with us by offering your guidance and vision. Share with us your stories, your ideas, and your aspirations. We invite you to participate in telling the story of Montgomery County so that meaningful change, informed by our collective past, will emerge from our grief and disillusionment. We are optimistic that history will look back at this point in time and see a community that chose a path to the future rooted in empathy, mutual respect, and dignity.
-The Montgomery History Family
Admitting bias is first step. Thank you Montgomery History!
Will all the other U.S. cities and counties named Montgomery step up?
I was raised in Montgomery County, Maryland named for General Richard Montgomery a Major General in the Continental Army who was killed in 1775 during the Battle of Quebec during the American Revolutionary War.  There were other earlier Battles of Quebec during the French and Indian Wars.  I had to review these facts quickly.  Thank you Wikipedia !
 Could Montgomery History host a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon open to the community? During “Wiki-Thons” groups and individuals create content and upload open source photographs to Wikipedia during an intensive seminar that enhances learning resources about a particular subject.  The history, communities, demography and diversity of Montgomery County, Maryland could be just such a subject. Volunteer mentors from the community who are Wikipedians assist the content producers.
About Diversity
There are many people living in Montgomery County – perhaps all Americans, truth be told – who represent an array of all the world’s indigenous gene pool. It has long been known that proving “racial difference” is a fog of nonsense by pseudo-scientists, mostly male, to perpetuate their social and economic position. Scientific racism endures, as this 2006 research analysis states, published by the  McGill Journal of Medicine.
So, ‘fess up, admit it, everybody has many types and ties to different blood, genes and intellect.  We inherit these traits and markers individually from our ancestors, not as a group. If you missed out on learning Biology or were prohibited by a church sect or cult from learning  the Science of Evolution here is a glossary of terms related to genetic evolution.
Change Concepts :: Concept Changes
I am wondering, has Montgomery Historical Society or any historical society ever prepared an exhibition with a theme examining how we are all “colored people” ?
That was the polite term used to define and segregate citizens of all ages when I attended the Montgomery County Public School System in the 1950s. And there were other terms, bullying pejoratives that are still in trade.
Can the various community groups dedicated to supporting local history and honest, transparent education come together and consider a suggestion:  Look into the historical association’s photo archives – and those of other local organizations.  Seek out personal archives and collections dedicated to honoring historical documentation. Discover an array of materials that highlight the concept that “Blue, Black, Purple, Yellow, Red and Brown People are Normal People” are “We the People”.
The June 4, 2020 Statement at the top of this posting was sent by email; I could not find it on the Montgomery History website.  As alluded to in the Statement, over the years, it is possible that intransigent curators and managers at the Montgomery Historical Society routinely ignored or did not actively search for images, oral history transcripts, artifacts and newspaper content that depict the normal day to day interaction of all kinds of local Montgomery County residents and visitors. Oh, except during Black History Month of course.
Or, they did, but few know about it.  Admitting past bias is not enough. Though it is encouraging that the message was crafted and distributed.
Controversy and Disruptive Innovation :: If not now, when?
Has Montgomery History already mounted such an exhibition, created videos or amassed such a truthful resource as I describe?  I admit, I have visited only once, in the late 1970s and saw the entrenched, staid focus on polite and white insular society. Has Montgomery History or the Maryland Historical Society ever offered an educational product or display exposing the rancid KKK and disguised fraternal supremacist groups that continue to exist in the county and state and country?
Has Montgomery History ever offered a program exposing the history of institution-based perpetuation of supremacy, which continues in these times?
When I participated in USG cybersecurity training and disruptive innovation simulations a decade ago, I learned that walking the perceived tightrope mindfully with a willingness to accept vilification, criticism and temporary failure during the process.  Discord with positive intentions can bring a group into creative change and social advancement. History Societies could lead honest and transparent public education.
Resources:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kayaking the Chesapeake

Kayaking on the Chesapeake Bay

Kayaking will not save your soul or bring world peace, but it will move you from youth through the middling years and onward to wisdom.   We’re talking about kayak touring, not the rough and tumble white water sport that gets all the headlines and warnings.

Flat water or sea kayaks are long, stable craft, built to cut through swells and withstand wind.  There are other sports suitable for the aging weekend athlete  who wants to preserve physical dignity and prowess, but kayaking can’t be beat for visual rewards.

The views are better from a long stable kayak where  you sit on a comfortable seat, legs outstretched below deck and feet braced on pegs that connect to the kayak’s rudder.  (Not all flat water kayaks have rudders.)  During the summer,  I usually paddle without the spray skirt,  but it’s necessary when Bay chop is sweeping the boat deck or afternoon thundershowers catch you still out. No one can bail or pump accumulating water when you also clutch a double blade paddle.  A lifejacket, cockpit skirt cover, bailing pump, whistle and light are essential equipment.

Map of eastern Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.
Md DNR fishing map of Tangier Sound, Maryland

On flat water, found in the numerous inlets, rivers and tributaries of the Eastern Shore of Maryland or Southern Maryland, the land between the Potomac River and the Bay, the paddling effort is slight.  You can drift with the river current.

The Choptank and Tuckahoe Rivers water trail is particularly lovely.  When I’m out paddling the serpentine tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, I often think of the native First Peoples of the region.  The Native peoples of the Chesapeake region

“Their Manner of Fishynge in Virginia.” Theodor de Bry’s engraving of American Indians fishing, published in Thomas Hariot’s 1588 book A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.
“Their Manner of Fishynge in Virginia.” Theodor de Bry’s engraving of American Indians fishing, published in Thomas Hariot’s 1588 book A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.

can inform modern caretakers of our waterways.

Dip, swush, dip, swush…. Paddle cadence simulates a moving meditation, a soothing zen system for approaching the universe.  Suddenly a Great Blue

Great Blue Heron bird standing near water
Great Blue Heron.

rises from a burned out tree, wing span long nearly as long as the kayak.    A turtle claps into the water, a beaver dives beneath the water.  Overhead Canada geese fly formation and there, out of the corner of my eye, a carp burns its yellow belly in the sun drenched surface of the river.  If it is evening, and a more secluded watershed, perhaps  a deer will be nibbling on tree leaves, ghosting the end of the day, marking it in my memory for all time.

Boating excursions from St. Michael’s area and beyond:

arial photo of Poplar Island in Chesapeake Bay, Md.
Poplar Island Restoration

During the 1930s, Pres. Roosevelt, (Franklin D.) visited the hunter’s clubhouse on the four-mile spit of land as  a nearby weekend retreat.   The name honors the poplar trees on the island.  The island has been undergoing restoration for years.  Dredged material has restored the island nearly to the perimeters of 1847.

South Marsh Island in Tangier Sound is under the  Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife & Heritage Service.

Smith Island, Maryland is famous for its cake.  That’s right, Smith Island Cake is like none other.  The locals serve a mean crab cake too. Board the ferry at Crisfield, Md.

Tilghman  Island, Maryland offers the easy going Bay lifestyle with rental apartments for weekenders from Edge City urban areas.

Tangier Sound – If you’re out kayaking on this water, seek local information about currents and tides.  Bear in mind there are rip currents both ways and possibly, motor boats piloted by well-oiled weekend day-sailors with impaired vision for kayakers ahead.

Watts Island off Tangier Island, Virginia might be too isolated for kayaking excursions.

Watch for mid to late afternoon winds which churn up the water and make paddling a strenous activity.  Keep your eye on shoreline landmarks such as towers or buildings to measure your progress.  If you’re not moving forward, make a new heading, possibly angling to shore.  You can’t beat wind force + currents with mere muscle.

Kayak memories are soft.  The sun at day’s end, the moon on black water, reeds rustling, nutria and muskrats scurrying away. Fish slapping the water surface with a force that can only be interpreted as glee when they realize that long shark-like creature isn’t a predator.

Resources:

Maryland Online Boating Access Guide

Chesapeake Bay Foundation boating trips

Virginia Tourism on the Chesapeake Bay

Sequoyah :: Cherokee Genius

Portrait of Sequoyah courtesy Wikipedia.

Sequoyah was a Cherokee silversmith who created an alphabet and syllabary for the Cherokee nation.  Noticing the effectiveness of the “talking leaf” (pages of writing) used by the pale skins, he divined that his people needed a similar written system to communicate.  During twelve years of labor and study he completed a syllabary of 85 symbols representing the sounds in Cherokee spoken language.

Sequoyah’s achievement is all the more remarkable in that he did not know any written language — was illiterate — when he embarked on this project.  The syllabary that Sequoyah developed enabled the Indian nation to attain literacy in their spoken language.

The Sequoyah League in California was founded to  improve conditions for First Peoples.

Further information:

*Foreman, Grant, ”Sequoyah”, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman,OK, 1938.

*Biography/Early Life of Sequoyah  – http://www.georgiahistory.com/containers/1146

*Chronicles of Sequoyah – http://digital.library.okstate.edu/chronicles/v008/v008p149.html

* Wikipedia Biography of Sequoyah – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequoyah