County praises voting rights advances

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Members of the Dorchester County Council on Tuesday declared Historical Freedom Week, Nov. 9-16, to commemorate advances in voting rights that began in North Dorchester. From the left are council members William Nichols (District 2), Libby Nagel (District 5), Dr. Carl Barham of the Historical Freedom Shrine Advocacy Team, Jay Newcomb, (District 1), Lenny Pfeffer (District 4) and Ricky Travers (District 3).

CAMBRIDGE — During their Tuesday meeting, members of the Dorchester County Council proclaimed Nov. 9-16 as Historical Freedom Week. The move highlighted a political victory achieved in 1986, ensuring that African-American citizens would have the chance to make their voices heard.

In the 19th century, the state adopted an at-large voting system, effectively preventing African-Americans from sending delegates or senators to Annapolis. The change to voting district by district meant representation for all in the state capital.

“The significance of the political victory in 1986 is it changed the way we vote today, in the county and throughout the state,” Dr. Carl Barham of the Historical Freedom Shrine Advocacy Team said. “The amending of the Maryland Constitution made voting more accessible and equitable to the citizens of Maryland.”

Dr. Barham was one of a group of 10 men, based in North Dorchester, who worked to see the change made in the state. Their success is memorialized in a 40,000-pound blue granite monument, erected just south of Preston in 1987.

Reading from the proclamation, Council President William Nichols (District 2) said, “By celebrating Historical Freedom Week, we affirm our commitment to remember the 10 bold men whose efforts have led to statewide reform in local elections.”

Dr. Barham noted several accomplishments in recent years, made by the Historical Freedom Shrine Advocacy Team. They were:

• The first public collection and exhibition of the Historical Freedom Shrine story at North Dorchester Middle School
• The first public collection and exhibition of Dorchester County Third Emancipation Proclamation
• Donations of the Historical Freedom Shrine photo montage in the county
• Successful advocation for the renaming of Md. 331, dedicated to the champion of voter reform
• Artifacts displayed at the new North Dorchester High School
• Presented a proposed budget to Hurlock Town Council for promoting economic development and community pride

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

Facebook Comment