ESNC announces plans for Reflections on Pine

Citywide commemoration planned for 50th anniversary of civil unrest in Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE — Plans are coming together for the July 20 to 23 commemoration, Reflections on Pine.

Dion Banks, Kisha Petticolas and Wendy Appollos of the Eastern Shore Network for Change are working diligently to make the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the fire on Pine Street a success.

According to a press release provided by ESNC, “Espousing faith, hope and possibilities, ‘Reflections on Pine’ marks the 50th anniversary of civil unrest in Cambridge … following decades of economic and educational segregation. We invite you to join us July 20-23, 2017 for a series of events commemorating fifty years of civil rights, change, and community.

“With the spotlight on race relations and tensions nationally, Cambridge will be on the forefront of changing perceptions and perspectives. The purpose of this 4-day event is to provide the community an opportunity to openly discuss and learn about what occurred over 50 years ago. …”

Commemoration plans include: The Run for Unity, a 5k run/walk; Groove on Pine, a concert and street festival; a gala dinner honoring the leaders of the civil rights movement in Cambridge with special guest, Gloria Richardson, the lady queen general of civil rights; a community church service; a prayer breakfast, sponsored by the Ministerial Alliance; a gospel concert at historic Bethel AME Church; and a community conversation about the civil rights movement and race relations.

“I am so overwhelmingly excited,” Mr. Banks said. “I’m excited about us moving forward and creating this environment where people can talk freely.”

This past weekend, Mr. Banks toured the historic black neighborhood to get people interested in offering oral histories about Pine Street to WHCP Radio.

“It’s really going to come full circle when we start to create these oral interviews,” Mr. Banks said.

Funding, volunteers and dedication is needed to make a citywide commemoration a success.

“As a community, regardless of what organization you’re part of, we’re all responsible for pushing the needle,” Mr. Banks said. “This is the first commemoration of its kind. Not only is it going to take personal sacrifice, it’s going to take money.”

ESNC members are actively seeking donations. In late February, members of the Elks Dorchester Lodge No. 223, located across the street from the site of the Pine Street School fire, donated $15,000 of seed money. The Elks building was damaged by the fire 50 years ago, according to Greg Meekins, a 12-year member of the Elks, a leading knight, and chairman of the charity committee. Mr. Meekins said Lodge No. 223 is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Dorchester Banner/Courtesy of ESNC
In late February, members of the Dorchester Elks Lodge No. 223 donated $15,000 to the Eastern Shore Network for Change for Reflections on Pine, a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement and fire on Pine Street. Holding the check, from left, are Dion Banks and Kisha Petticolas, of ESNC; Elks members from left in the front row are Carlton W. Stanley, Danny Chester, Derek Wongus, John Marine and Greg Meekins; second row, Lonzie Reese and Frankie Harris; third row, Eugene Camper, partly obscured, Dr. Benjamin Hosch, Joe Lewis, Darnell Chester and Forney Wongus.

“When I look at what Dion and the ESNC is trying to do, the timing couldn’t be any better,” Mr. Meekins said. “The lodge has been a focal point on Pine Street through the years.”

Mr. Meekins said it’s very important to have a community conversation about what happened 50 years ago, the city’s progress since then, and what more is needed to heal old wounds.

“I’m a native of Cambridge; 1967 was the year I graduated from high school,” Mr. Meekins said. “It has left a lot of indelible memories in my life. … It has engendered some uncomfortable feelings for some people. It was tragic.”

Despite the $15,000 donation, more funding is needed.

“When I looked at their budget, it’s a big budget they have,” Mr. Meekins said, “and that’s just a portion of what they need.”

Current community stakeholders in the commemoration include: City of Cambridge Economic Development, Dorchester County Economic Development, Dorchester County Department of Tourism, Dorchester Center for the Arts, Chesapeake College, Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, the Dorchester Banner, Liv Again, Alpha Genesis, Dorchester Historical Society, the downtown Harriett Tubman Museum, Cambridge Police, Cambridge Multi-Sport, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Waugh Chapel, Bethel AME, Christ Church and Grace United Methodist.

For more information about Reflections on Pine, or to express interest in volunteering or making a donation, visit www.reflectionsonpine.org, www.esnccambridgemd.com, email esnccambridgemd@gmail.com, or call 443-252-3542.

 

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