Submitted by Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings

“This month, the Maryland Democratic Party commemorates Black History Month. Since the early days of colonial America, Maryland has played an outsized role in the history of Black Americans.

Maryland’s participation in the Atlantic slave trade casts a long shadow over the history of our state. The first African people held as slaves were brought to Maryland in 1642. In the years to come, the slave trade found its conduit to the New World through the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, with Annapolis and Baltimore serving as major points of entry for arriving slave traders.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings (LinkedIn Photo)

But from the shameful shadows of slavery, the shining lights of abolition and civil rights began to emerge. Maryland natives Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were born in bondage in the early 19th Century. Both escaped, and went on to shake history. Frederick Douglass became a leading champion of abolition nationwide, and Harriet Tubman rescued countless enslaved people and brought them to freedom through the Underground Railroad.

The history of racial struggle in Maryland continued during the Civil Rights Era when Maryland leaders rose to prominence as champions of racial equality. One exemplar was the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Born in Baltimore in 1908, Marshall founded the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and as executive director, argued many civil rights cases before the Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education, the case that outlawed separate and unequal arrangements in America’s schools. In 1967, Marshall was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to become the first African-American to ever serve on the Supreme Court.

Today, Maryland continues to play a major role, with many African-American sons and daughters of Maryland leading the way nationwide. In 2018, after transforming the NAACP, headquartered in Baltimore, former president and CEO Ben Jealous ran for the governorship of our state. In Congress, African-American champions like Congressman Anthony Brown and Congressman Elijah Cummings continue to serve our state while fighting for freedom, justice and opportunity for all.

The Maryland Democratic Party commemorates Black History Month, honors the many Black Marylanders who shaped history, and salutes the leaders who continue the fight for racial equality, civil rights, and progress.”

Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is serves as chair of Maryland Democratic Party Chair.

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