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African American Contributions - Preserving Black History One Story at a Time
African American Contributions - Preserving Black History One Story at a Time
 

Our Story and How We're Making A Difference

Founded in 1995, by Elmer Brown, UCAC is a 501(C) 3 non-profit organization that is governed by an elected Board of Directors.

Mission Statement: 

To document, increase understanding of and foster African American contributions to the history and development of St. Mary’s County while advocating for improvements in health, education, and community building for all citizens of St. Mary’s County.

History of UCAC:

Elmer Brown - Founder of UCACIn 1994, at a dance during Black History Month, Elmer Brown began talking about all the things that had happened within the black community in St. Mary’s County history.  How there was no recognition of what blacks had done and contributed to the county over the years.  Mr. Brown said, “Let’s put up a monument.”

Click here to read more about the history of the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions, and the erection of the monument in honor of the contributions of African AmericansUnder Mr. Brown's leadership, members of the community began meeting regularly in the fall of 1994. The group named itself the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions (UCAC).  Incorporated in the state of Maryland, St. Mary's County, on October 30, 1994, UCAC became a 501(C) (3) non-profit organization.

On November 29, 1994, the committee presented a proposal to the St. Mary's Board of County Commissioners: to erect a monument dedicated to African Americans.  The commissioners agreed to placing the monument in Freedom Park** in Lexington Park, Maryland. 

Elmer Brown envisioned a monument shaped like an Egyptian pyramid, representing strength and endurance.  Inspired by the hymn, Rough Side of the Mountain, the monument was built of rough stone.  Says Mr. Brown, "The stones and the shape of the monument represent the difficult struggle of blacks climbing the rough side of the mountain to get to the other side."

In addition to the monument honoring and celebrating the contributions of African Americans, the committee took on another crucial task: recording the oral histories of its oldest black residents.

Janice Walthour and Merideth Taylor co-chairs of the original Oral History Committee for UCAC.There is much more to the history and culture of African Americans in St. Mary's County than most residents might realize.  Witnesses to portions of that history, by way of oral histories, link the present day county vividly with its past. Janice Walthour and Merideth Taylor co-chaired the original Oral History Committee. 

"At the time, you made out with what you had because you didn't realize there was something better that you were supposed to have."
~ Clarence Smith

Examining the history of African-American life in St. Mary's County is a little like examining the lines etched deeply into a person's face or hands: much is suggested, but how much is really known without serious probing, research, and questioning?

The Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions (UCAC), has taken on the task of ensuring that these glimpses are not forgotten.  That they are fleshed out, put in context, and brought to the attention of the community for its own examination, enjoyment, and education.

UCAC participates in a variety of events and fundraisers, and is sustained through grants and donor contributions.  Governance is by an elected Board of Directors. This Board is comprised of citizens from diverse social, religious and professional backgrounds who make all fiscal and policy decisions for the organization. The Board of Directors has eighteen members who are dedicated to increasing the understanding, and the fostering, of African American contributions to the history and development of St. Mary's County.

Most notable of its community involvements is the annual JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION — an event originally launched in St. Mary's County by UCAC in June 2004.  The Juneteenth Celebration exposes the citizens of St. Mary’s County and its visitors the opportunity to sample the various displays of art, education, health, jobs, and faith-based initiatives which surround them every day. Through the Juneteenth Celebration the community becomes more aware of the artist and artistry in their community. It is the hope of UCAC that those who find a passion for some art form pursue that passion fully and share it with the community.

Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions (UCAC)
“Building pride in cultural heritage from generation to generation”

Accomplishments:

The USCT Memorial Statue began as one woman's story of her grandfather ...Erected Two Monuments in St. Mary’s County to Commemorate African American History

The African American Monument of St. Mary’s County was established to commemorate the significant contributions of African Americans to the history and development of St. Mary’s County.

Dedicated on July 29, 2000, the monument recognizes the important contributions of African Americans in the following areas: religion, farming, trades, domestic service, education, business, industry, community service, arts, entertainment, health, sports, government, politics, law enforcement, military service, and technology. The African American Monument is located at the corner of Rte. 235 and Tulagi Place in Lexington Park, MD.

United States Colored Troops (USCT) Civil War Memorial Monument  

Dedicated June 16, 2012, this memorial monument honors United States Colored Troops and all Union soldiers and sailors from St. Mary’s County who fought in the Civil War. It honors Medal of Honor recipients (USCT William H. Barnes, USCT James H. Harris and USN Joseph Hayden ) The USCT Monument is located in Lancaster Park in Lexington Park, MD.

Signature Events:

Juneteenth - (A Safe and Family Friendly Environment Free to the Public)

In conjunction with the county government, UCAC sponsors Juneteenth, a celebration of African American heritage that commemorates the emancipation of slavery in the United States. This annual event is run by local volunteers. The county provides an annual stipend of $5,000 to offset the expenses of this event. In June of 2013 this amount will be reduced to $4,000.

Facts and Figures on Juneteenth

Number of Volunteers: 80 Hours - 2080 ($43,260 in kind service)
Number of attendees: 2, 500
Number of Donors and amount received: 62 Donors - $23,500
Matching grants, especially those containing local Government participation requirements: N/A
Demographic splits: 90% African American;10% other
"Sound byte" quotes:
We can best predict where we are going if we first reflect on where we have been.” Ralph Ignatius Butler
Our homegrown nonprofits are the heart of the Community.” Merideth Taylor and Bob Lewis
Number of Employees: (N/A)
Total Budget amount: $30,000

Return on Investment/Impact of funds to support Juneteenth in St. Mary’s County

Preserving Black History and the Contributions of African AmericansThis African American Heritage Festival is held to celebrate Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. County funding, monetary donations, in-kind donations from businesses, and organizations such as the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, and the community exemplify responsiveness to the African American community which represents 14% of the County’s population. Their support of this event is evident of a strong commitment to providing all citizens with opportunities for the following:

  • Celebrating freedom by annually recognizing the end of slavery in our nation and being educated about and/or reminded of the perils and consequences of slavery.
  • Recognizing St. Mary’s County’s rich and vibrant African American History and the many contributions that African Americans have made to our great Nation.
  • Honoring the legacy of diversity that America has embraced.
  • Becoming informed about county government services and local organizations’ programs and services i.e. drug prevention programs, free health screenings, college information, employment information etc.
  • Participating in and experiencing diversity in history and culture through informational speeches, programs, special recognitions of county leaders and other positive role models.
  • Exposure to local, state and nationally renowned performing artists, craft vendors, food vendors i.e. tasting and eating a variety of foods, gospel singing, horseback riding for children, African dance, jazz concerts, theatrical presentations etc.
  • Meeting tourists from other areas and providing them with hospitality and exposure to local heritage and recreational areas etc.
  • Soliciting membership in UCAC to involve citizens in other outreach programs/partnerships such as the following:

    ú Annual Business Meeting
    ú Martin King, Jr. Remembrance
    ú Black History Month
    ú Celebrations in partnership with the public library, the NAACP and the Minority Outreach Coalition.

Preserving Black History - Cardinal Gibbons SchoolExhibit - Remember the Past Look to the Future: African American Education in St. Mary’s County 1865 - 1967, a portable exhibit available to the public that depicts African American education during the era of segregation.

Oral History Project - Collecting and transcribing oral histories which generated the historic foundation for the monument and UCAC publications. Collection are available at the College of Southern Maryland Study Center, St. Mary’s College, local library and the Historical Society.

Publications/Projects

Calendars (2000 & 2001) – “Making a Difference in the Millennium, “African American History in St. Mary’s County

Award winning book, (2006) In Relentless Pursuit of an Education: African American Stories from a Century of Segregation, 1865-1967

Black History isn't always pretty, but our stories MUST be told!Documentary – Assisted with collecting oral history that contributed to the documentary, “Ending a Century of Segregation: One High School’s Story”. The focus of the story is on the desegregation of Great Mills High School.

Interpretive Panels– Assisted the St. Mary’s County Division of Museums with writing the interpretive panels for the historic Drayden School, a one room African American school from 1890-1944.

Brochure - Assisted St. Mary’s County Division of Tourism with the development of a destination brochure on African-American sites/attractions/events/resources in St. Mary’s County.

Workshops & Seminars Sponsor and facilitate workshops, multicultural community education programs, lectures and cultural arts performances.

The United Committee for Afro-American Contributions pursues a varied outreach program including gathering and sharing oral histories, holding lectures, seminars, workshops, and promoting events — all in the pursuit of our mission.

In order to enhance multicultural education techniques, UCAC members facilitate lectures and seminars that are in cooperation with the public needs and educational systems of the county schools. UCAC conducts workshops to enhance our outreach for collecting oral histories as well as training volunteers in the gathering, cataloging, and reformatting of oral histories.

UCAC Board of Directors

Executive Officrers Board of Directors  

Michael Brown - President
Jeanette Pettit - Vice President
Clarissa Ashton Stripling - Secretary
Michelle Brown—Treasurer

(two year term)
Michael Brown
Michelle Brown
Anna Moseley
Nathaniel Scroggins
Dr. Bernice Williams

(one year term)
Douglas Frederick
Glenn James
Jeanette Pettit
Marjorie Ross

Committee Chairpersons

Juneteenth - Michael Brown
History and Research - Alma Jordon
Finance - Glenn James
Development - Nathaniel Scroggins
Public Relations - Jeanette Pettit
Nomination - Glenn James
Monument/Capital Projects - Nathaniel Scroggins
Website Management - Debbie Dunlap
Membership - Marji Ross

Juneteenth Committee

Teri Branch
Michael Brown
Michelle Brown
Hameedah Greaves
Shukriyyah Greaves
Janet Halton
Sandra Johnson
Robin Johnson
Alma Jordon
Anna Moseley
Jeanette Pettit
Deloris Poole
Nathaniel Scroggins
Clarissa Stripling
Cornelius Stripling
Linda Thomas
Lolita Tyler
Janice Walthour
Mikki Waters
Bernice Williams
Mary Somerville - Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions  

Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions • PO Box 1457 • Lexington Park, MD 20653 • info@AfricanAmericanContributions.com

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