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.

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