ESNC: Hogan coming Feb. 11 to Pine Street

Governor to honor local civil rights leaders during Black History Month

CAMBRIDGE — Eastern Shore Network for Change has a message to share and Gov. Larry Hogan is paying attention. It’s time to talk about the Long, Hot Summer of 1967, the civil rights movement, and the unrest and fire on Pine Street that came with the times 50 years ago.
Formed in 2012 by co-founders Dion Banks and Kisha Petticolas, ESNC’s mission is to “… raise awareness of issues in Dorchester County and creatively work with the community to inform, educate, and foster change that leads to social and economic empowerment,” according to the group’s website, www.esnccambridgemd.com.

Mr. Banks works in international sales and government affairs at Cambridge International and is a lifetime member of the NAACP. Ms. Petticolas is an assistant public defender in Talbot County and previously worked for the Talbot County State’s Attorney’s Office. She is active in the community and a member of the Dorchester County Branch NAACP.

From July 21 to 24, ESNC is hosting “Reflections on Pine: 50 Years after the fire” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Long, Hot Summer. Mr. Banks and Ms. Petticolas are working with 101.5 WHCP in Cambridge to compile oral histories from people who witnessed or were involved with the civil rights movement in the city and county.

“We’re calling attention to what happened because this community as a whole does not discuss it. We’re forcing some conversations,” Ms. Petticolas said Jan. 12. “There are plenty of people here who would love to talk about it but don’t feel they have the platform. They don’t have a safe space. They don’t feel open to be expressive. So we’re trying to create those kinds of opportunities for people to learn from each other, to heal, because this community seems to not have really healed from that.”

Dorchester Banner/Courtesy of ESNC
Members of the Eastern Shore Network for Change from left, Dion Banks, co-founder; Wendy Appollos, director of communications; and Kisha Petticolas, Esq., co-founder; stand with Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley in October while wearing shirts that honor Dorchester County civil rights heroes.

The group’s work to host the July event and create a platform for discussion was noticed by Gov. Hogan.

“The governor’s office has been a great supporter of our event in July,” Mr. Banks said Jan. 12. “To help us even more, they’ve decided to host one of their black history programs, one of three, here in Cambridge, Md., to help us kick off our event.”
Plans are still being finalized for the governor’s Feb. 11 visit, but Mr. Banks said the commemoration will likely be a daylong event at Bethel AME Church on Pine Street. Plans include a VIP tour in the morning, followed by a full program at the church and a reception after the program. Gloria Richardson Dandridge, leader of the Cambridge Movement, will be honored, and a logo for the July event will be unveiled.

Mr. Banks said the civil rights movement in Cambridge gets national attention on benchmark anniversaries like the 45th and 30th. The city is often reflected negatively when those stories are told from the outside looking in. He wants to change the conversation to mark the 50th anniversary.

“We want to get in front of the perceptions of what people think Cambridge is and what Dorchester County is and let them know how great we are,” Mr. Banks said. “We’re creating a platform for everybody. I mean everybody. The story that comes out of here is going to be the story of a progressive community. It’s going to be a community that’s ready to work. It’s going to be a community that’s ready for economic expansion.”

To tell your story, express interest in getting involved, or learn more about the new movement, call ESNC at 443-252-3542, email esnc.cambridgemd@gmail.com or visit www.esnccambridgemd.com.

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