Howard Magazine - Page 41 - Diversity By The Numbers (2)

Howard Magazine
- Page 41
Diversity By The Numbers (2)

Black history beyond Columbia

 

Howard’s growth got a boost from the founding of Columbia in 1967 by James W. Rouse. The planned suburban community was created to foster racial and economic integration.

 

But African Americans in Howard predate Columbia’s founding.

 

Some residents can trace their lineage back to slave families, said Shawn Gladden, executive director of the Howard Historical Society. Other communities, like Simpsonville’s Freetown (now part of Columbia), formed in areas where freed slaves settled during the Civil War era.

 

Located in Freetown is the former Harriet Tubman High School — the only high school for the county’s black students during segregation, from 1949 to 1965.

 

In Guilford (now part of Savage), Guilford Elementary School opened in 1954 for “colored” children only — months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared segregated schools unconstitutional. It desegregated 11 years later.

 

The Ellicott City Colored School, constructed in 1880, was the first publicly funded county school for black children and was in operation until the early 1950s.

 

“Ellicott City was a hub for African-Americans,” said Anita Pandey, a professor at Morgan State University and director of the Howard County African American History Project.

 

In the 1960s,while Columbia was being built, African- Americans living in historic Ellicott City faced a housing crisis due to de-facto racial segregation and racist housing practices, she said.

 

Conditions were so poor that the March 1967 issue of “Jet,” a national magazine for black readers, ran a cover story titled “Inside report on nation’s smallest black ghetto,” referring to apartments on the lower part of Fels Lane, a road off Main Street in Ellicott City.

 

The exposé was published two years after a fire