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Keyword: baltimore county history

 Louis Diggs
Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission

It pleases me greatly that African Americans from Baltimore County now have much of their history documented in book form, because for most of the 300+ years they have been residing here, there has been no previously documented history.

About twenty years ago, Baltimore County identified forty African American communities that have been in existence for many generations, thanks to the African American history compiled by my friend and mentor, Lenwood Johnson, a retired planner from Baltimore County government. He inspired me to take on the task of researching the history of African American communities and life in the County. I am not even a native of the County, as I was born and reared in Baltimore City; however, my ancestors came from slavery in the Boring area back in the 1700s.  

When I returned home from the Korean War, I met a beautiful young lady named Shirley Washington from Catonsville and married her in 1954. We took up residence in the historic Winters Lane community. After retiring from the military and civil service, I taught a class at Catonsville High School on researching family and community history. During the class, I discovered that the Winters Lane area had no documented history. The Catonsville students urged me to find their history for them. This has resulted in the publication of eight books so far, documenting much of the history of the African American communities and life in Baltimore County.

Now our children can find much of their own community history in Baltimore County. Interesting facts abound, such as:

· Who was the first female Superintendent of Baltimore City Schools? Alice Penderhuges from Chattolanee in the Green Spring Valley

· Who was the first known elected politician from the County who was from a historic African-American community? Adrienne Jones from Cowdensville in Arbutus

· Who caused Thurgood Marshall to come to the County and possibly caused African American students to no longer have to go into Baltimore City for their high school education? Margaret Williams from Cowdensville, in the 1930s

· Who is widely considered the first African-American man of science? Benjamin Banneker whose life and works are celebrated at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Site and Museum in Oella.

· What were some of the contributions made by many African Americans, both free and enslaved, who fought for this Country during the Civil War? This is the subject of my 10th book, which I hope to complete by 2014.

· African American students like Phyllis Randall King (from the Winters Lane community in Catonsville) protested to open public swimming pools in the area.

My ninth book is on the all-African American military unit in Baltimore with whom I proudly went to war with in Korea in 1950. I encourage you to take a look at some of this fascinating history for yourself.  

(Information compiled by Louis S. Diggs, local historian and author of nine books on African American communities and life in Baltimore County (www.louisdiggs.com and www.diggsresearchcenter.org)


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