The Universities Studying Slavery (USS) consortium and movement continues to expand even in difficult times. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has kept many of us at home and moved most collegiate learning to remote online formats, colleges and universities continue the important work of coming to terms with slavery and racism in institutional pasts. Our collective work has increasingly pushed into the much more recent past and to confronting the lasting legacies of the long history of racism in U.S. history that are still with us today. The newest member of the USS consortium, Allegany College of Maryland, is a perfect example of that trend.
Allegany College of Maryland (ACM) is a small, rural, public, community college located in the Appalachian Mountains of western Maryland. ACM has a full-time student population of about 1,800, many of whom reside in the immediate area. The school also draws many students from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia. The college has a diverse population of students of many different races, ethnicities, ages and genders.
ACM promotes civic education through its Democracy Commitment Committee, providing a national platform for the development and expansion of programs and projects that look to engage community college students in civic learning and democratic practice. The committee oversees the work of the College to Community Partnership Center, which engages students in addressing the critical, unmet human needs, within civic and community engagement initiatives.
Currently, ACM is collaborating with the following initiatives to provide education on slavery and racism within institutional, regional, and national historical perspectives:
The Brownsville Project – which looks to explore and confront the history and social impact of Brownsville, a forgotten African American community established in 1866 that was nested in Frostburg, Maryland, in the county where ACM is located. Brownsville was a community that began with Tamar Brown and Elizabeth Jackson, two women of color. Both were formerly enslaved people who purchased land and raised homes on neighboring lots in Frostburg. With the support of other formerly enslaved people in Allegany County, they organized and nurtured an African American community that lasted from the 1860’s through the 1950’s. Frostburg State University now exists where Brownsville once stood. The story behind Brownsville’s existence and displacement is detailed in Lynn G. Bowman’s book: Being Black in Brownsville: Echoes of a “forgotten” Frostburg.
The Brownsville Project also coordinates the Allegany County Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Project, which was founded to acknowledge and memorialize William Burns, who was lynched in Cumberland, Maryland. The initiative is dedicated to helping Allegany County residents reconcile with the intergenerational harm caused by lynching and other violent acts against the African-American community.
ACM also supports and engages students in activities with the local chapter of the NAACP as they work to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.
Please welcome Allegany College of Maryland (ACM) to the Universities Studying Slavery (USS) team!