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.”

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