The City of Rockville has been working for nearly a decade to recognize the history of African American in the city and yesterday marked a major accomplishment with the installation of several interpretive markers in downtown. Many people who shop, work, and live in the Town Square don’t realize it was once a thriving African American community which was demolished during the 1960s and 1970s due to urban renewal. Today, very little remains and the plaques remind us of how much was lost–and also that African Americans have a long and distinguished history in Rockville.
Yesterday afternoon the City of Rockville hosted a tour on an incredibly beautiful fall day to visit some of these places and to see the new plaques, including the Montgomery County Courthouse, Beall Dawson House, and the Jerusalem Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church. The event began in Town Square with outstanding music and dance performances by The Finest, Karlton Jackson, and Geraldine Payton-Brown and speeches by Mayor Susan Hoffmann and Henry Hailstock, president of the Montgomery County chapter of the NAACP. The event and tour was mc’d by William “Billy G” Gordon and coordinated by Anita Neal Powell (Historic District Commissioner) and Robin Ziek (Historic Preservation Planning staff). The event attracted local elected and appointed officials, including councilmembers Phylllis Marcuccio, Piotr Gajewski, and John Britton and historic district commissioner Craig Maloney (and of course, me). If you missed it, it’ll be broadcast on Channel 11 in the next few weeks and you can explore the sites anytime on your own using the walking tour booklet (available free online or at City Hall).