Sunday, August 13, 2017

Guest Post: Shawn Gladden, HCHS

Yesterday I received this letter in response to my post. I am sharing it today with permission.


I am the Director of the Historical Society and I would like to address your recent blog post about our music concert series.  

I feel it is unfair for you to display us publicly as an organization that is not diverse or that we in any way support segregation.  I invite you to learn about all of our programming before you make such a narrow interpretation of who we are and what we do.

1)  The music concert series is open to any bands that apply, regardless of color, ethnicity or gender.  The band's come to us.  Last year we had two reggae bands (both African American artists) Two years ago we had Tekeytha Fullwood, African American lyricist.  This year none of those artists were available.  With regards to Jimmi.  He is a good friend of mine from High School who has studied and played Blues music and is well qualified to represent the genre. Regardless of his skin color.  

2)  But the music series is not our only program.  I ask you to look at our Lunch Lecture series which has featured numerous topics on local African American History including upcoming talk on Black Churches in Howard County.

3)  I have a master's degree in history specializing in African American history, and yes I am white.   I have gone to great lengths to diversify the programming that we offer at the society including creating a committee on African American History that has gotten three Howard County sites on the NPS Underground railroad trail,  erected signage in the Underground Railroad in Howard County at the Courthouse,  we are currently documenting the history of Fels Lane and raising money to erect signage there and we featured two years ago an exhibit on the Underground Railroad and the United States Colored Troops.  Every year we do an event at Roger Carter center called Songs of Freedom with Howard County Parks and Rec on Martin Luther King Day. We also partner with the African American museum for Nineteenth.  All of these programs were advertised and promoted on social media.

I feel like your representation of our organization is unfair and I will oppose it publicly.  If you, as an educator,  would like to volunteer and assist us in our programming, we welcome that wholeheartedly.  But please do deeper research before you blast us as only promoting white events and promoting segregation.  It's unfair to me and my hardworking staff.

By the way, Jimmie is mixed race.


Shawn Gladden
Executive Director
Howard County Historical Society

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