|In Annapolis (as elsewhere), slaves usually weren’t sold out in public, but rather through word of mouth,
often the transactions took place in the back of taverns such as this one.
Annapolis, with its narrow, streets with historic houses overlooking the water; its interesting boutiques and restaurants, and the Maryland Capitol building is a great afternoon day trip destination — and one we frequently have visited and blogged about. But there’s a hidden history that few realize. African American history throughout Annapolis’ story was rarely recorded in the meticulous detail white history was documented. But it’s there, right below the surface. You just have to look around a bit, to see evidence of it. Understanding that history is another matter entirely.
|The Historic Annapolis Museum is currently hosting the Freedom Bound: Runaways of the Chesapeake exhibit.|
On the two-hour guided walking tour of the town, you’ll learn about African American life in Annapolis. The tour began on West Street, moved along Church Circle down to Franklyn Street, visiting the site of the Banneker-Douglass Museum, discussing both Benjamin Banneker and Frederick Douglass, as well as Dr. Aris T Allen, the only black doctor in the region during the Jim Crow Era, and thus, the only doctor African Americans could visit.
|Fleet Street was a black, working-class neighborhood until it became gentrified in the late 20th century.|
|Built in 1868, this building was a school for young black children in the late 1800s.|
The tour travels past homes owned by prominent African Americans throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, down to the harbor, where a statue of author Alex Haley sits on the dock in front of statues of three children. Haley’s novel, Roots, was based on the life of his ancestor Kunta Kinte who was brought to Maryland from Africa on a slave ship. From there we walked up Fleet Street, once a working class black neighborhood that was home to the boat workers and oystermen who once lived and worked in Annapolis.
On Maryland Avenue we walked past the Hammond-Harwood House, where Sara Matthews and her four children were enslaved. If you face the building, they lived in the right wing (the south wing), above the kitchen. We briefly talked about their lives, what little is known about them.
Getting there: The tour starts and ends from the Annapolis Visitors Center at 26 West Street.
Hours: Please check the website for tour times and availability.