The top is off and the “genie” is coming out of the bottle. What is the genie? It is the best- kept political secret in more than a quarter of a century: “The historical freedom shrine story.” On Nov. 19, 2013 the Dorchester County Council showed bold and compassionate leadership in publicly recognizing and honoring ten men, mostly from North Dorchester County for their courage and efforts that led to statewide reform in local elections – changing the system of voting in 1986 from “At Large Voting to District Voting.” These ten men were George C. Jones, Don W. Bradley, Richard Harding, Edward Conway, Leon Medford, Charles F. Hurley Sr, Oliver Harding, William Harding, William Reid, William O. Corkan and Gregory Meekins. Two of them, Meekins from Cambridge and Conway from North Dorchester are black. Both Meekins and Don Bradley remain alive today. Some family members of the deceased were present, at the Nov. 19 event, to receive commendations.
On Nov. 10, 2015 and Nov. 1, 2016, the Dorchester County Council showed leadership by proclaiming those days as “Historical Freedom Shrine Day” — a first in our county’s history. The Council encouraged citizens to appreciate and to celebrate this great historical heritage we have in our county and state. The Historical Freedom Shrine is the largest twenty ton blue granite monument in the state that symbolizes voter reform. Figuratively speaking, it echoes the powerful message at our visceral level that “Freedom is the Right to Vote.” And is reminiscent of an article written on May 2015 in the Dorchester Banner Newspaper: “Trails to Voter Reform from Harriet Tubman to the Historical Freedom Shrine.” The Shrine helps us understand how far we have come and where we are going.
As one travels south to Dorchester County’s Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, you will find the Harriet Tubman Underground National Monument Park. Traveling north you will find the Maryland Monument of Voter Reform: The Historical Freedom Shrine. Both of them give us a great sense of pride and deep appreciation on the struggles for freedom. They represent the “unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and a fundamental right of citizenship- the right to vote. These are core values in our democratic society.
Today you can visit seven buildings available to the public, and see the Historical Freedom Shrine story on display. These buildings are Hurlock United M. Church, Hurlock Town Council Chamber, Hurlock Branch Library, Dorchester Circuit Court, Dorchester County Council Chamber, the City of Cambridge City Hall and Cambridge Public Library.
Our present and future ambitions are to have historical marker signs on our state roads, similarly to the Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass road signs, indicating to the public that the Maryland Monument for Voter Reform: The Historical Freedom Shrine is here for them to visit. Also, we are striving for state wide recognition for the Maryland Voting Equity Reform Day. The process for reform started in Dorchester County.
We welcome you to Google: “Hurlock Freedom Marker, the Maryland Historical Freedom Shrine story and Historical Freedom Day Honored in Hurlock,” to learn more about our story.