Armand Fletcher

Fletcher describing some of the buildings of the sixties.
To kick off the start of interviews, the team met with Armand Fletcher, one of the students in the first integrated class Chestertown High, at the Kent County Historical Society to discuss his life and to learn about the African-American history in the county. Armand told them of his life and of is experiences in the newly integrated high  school--how he went from being called "nigger" all up and down the halls and fighting with one of the students to eventually becoming friends with everyone in the school. He described the way he realized his role in this historical moment when he wanted to go back to Garnett, and his principal at the time told he couldn't. "The whole town is watching you," he told him.
Some of the exhibits.
Armand also took them through the exhibit about black history in the county, going over the successes during and after the Civil War, the restoration of the G.A.R. building, the various memories of segregation and integration, and more. He talks about the Uptown Club, the times when the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and other big singers came through Chestertown, and much, much more.
(L-R) Nona Martin, Samantha Gross, Armand Fletcher, Erin Cooper, Michael Derege
A wise and well traveled individual, Armand returned home to Chestertown after being away, bringing a renewed sense of purpose and a new respect for the town he calls home. He offers a lot of advice and anecdotes in this first interview, and it is clear he is passionate about what he is doing with the historical society.


Professor George Shivers

This afternoon we talked with former WC Hispanic Studies professor, George Shivers, about his involvement and study of Kent County desegregation. Shivers shared his studies of Board meetings about integration as well as more information based on his understandings. 
Before it was an elementary school, the Henry Highland Garnett School was the high school created for black student between 1915 and 1916. The version we see today was created in 1959. Meanwhile the main high school for the town was the Chestertown High School. The first black student to ever attend CHS was Patricia Bryant in 1962. Bryant would go on to serve as a United Methodist pastor as well as a superintendent for the Salisbury District, but Shivers could not track her beyond there.

We also learned more about Shiver's career with the college and what he is up to now.

Leslie Prince Raimond

Now and Then: Leslie recently and Leslie as a WC Senior
This morning, Nona Martin and Samantha Gross met with Leslie Prince Raimond, a Washington College graduate of 1963 and the current Executive Director for the Kent County Arts Council. Raimond has had a long history with Chestertown. She was in college for the first black student as well as the Freedom Riders, and she has since stayed and been a part of the town's rich culture and history.

While this was not yet a traditional oral history interview (that will be for later), Leslie had many stories to share as well as connections to other important alum and members of the community. One particular story was about the quilt that now hangs in the Kent County Historical Society (located  at the Bordley History Center, 301 High Street, Chestertown).
The quilt was made in the late nineties and holds the pictures of many of the community elders at the time, some in their nineties themselves. Many have since passed away, but Leslie captured some of their stories on paper.


GMU Workshop on Qualitative Methods

Bright and early at 5:30 a.m. StoryQuest members Samantha Gross ('14), Michael Derege('14), and Erin Cooper ('14) boarded a Washington College shuttle driven by program director Nona Martin to attend one the days of a workshop on qualitative methods conducted by the college's new Provost and Dean of the College, Emily Chamlee-Wright at George Mason University. Along the way they picked up other program director, Michael Buckley, and headed towards the James Buchanan House to sit in on a day of lectures about interview techniques. They joined a few other George Mason economic graduate students at the Fairfax, VA location.

Chamlee-Wright and Martin briefly discussed their personal experience with interviewing and oral history as they explained their most recent project of studying post-Katrina New Orleans, entitled, "How We Came Back." This project took them, with other investigators, to New Orleans, LA to interview hundreds of Katrina victims. They discussed the valuable lessons they learned (no interviews after dark), funny-now-not-so-much-then accounts (like interviewing without air conditioning in the middle of a humid summer), and more as they segued the discussion into the different topics for the day's workshop.

Questors learned bout the types of questions that should be asked, why oral history and the qualitative method, rather than a quantitative one, is so important, and more during this day long workshop.

As a special treat, they were able to sample some of Fairfax's Indian food for lunch and were able to talk with the GMU Graduate students about their fields of study or academic past.


An Introduction: Civil Rights on the Eastern Shore

Speaker talks to Washington College Students

Maryland may have been a middle state and part of the Union during the Civil War, but come to the Eastern Shore as late as the sixties, and one might find it more comparable to the deep South than its northern counterparts. If you stepped into Chestertown in 1963, the sight would be a far cry from something found only a little more than an hour or two away in Philadelphia or Baltimore. Lombardo's, a popular little sandwich restaurant, would probably not serve you if you weren't white. You might discover that you'd have to sit in the balcony of the movie theater if you were black. If you were white, you might realize that those big singers you've been listening to--Ray Charles, Patti Labelle, and more--were playing right down on College Avenue and Calvert Street in the Uptown Club, and you were not allowed to go in. Keep in mind the passing of the Civil Rights Act (1964) was right around the corner, and the passing of Brown vs. Board of Education had been passed for nearly a decade. It seems the turmoil and radical change that was racing through the country had bypassed the isolate Eastern Shore.

The aim of the summer 2013 program is to get the stories of the people who lived during this time, and find out what it was really like for people during this era. We want to know about the topics of segregation, individual involvement, personal perspective. Black, white, old, young, student, worker, teacher, official, you name it. The stories we collected will paint a true picture, beyond the words of a textbook, of the Eastern Shore during one of the most tumultuous decades in the United States' history.