Discovering Dorchester’s Black History (and More!) Through Its Murals

The Reflections on Pine Street mural, painted by Rosato, highlights Cambridge’s rich African-American
history, culture and heritage, particularly in the community around Pine Street, which is one
of the oldest African-American communities in the country, dating back to the mid-1800s.

I recently spent a delightful but rainy afternoon exploring some of Dorchester County’s beautiful murals, many of which have been painted by nationally known muralist Michael Rosato, who lives in Dorchester County. A few years ago, we toured Rosato’s five murals.

Located on the side of a downtown Cambridge building by Cannery Way, a brick courtyard,
this mural was created by local artists WIily Schlossbach and Jen Wagner.
Featuring a combination of mosaic and paint, the mural traces Cambridge’s history from
Native American times through the late 20th century.

Throughout Cambridge are lovely murals, particularly along Race Street, including one of Rosato’s latest murals, “Take My Hand,” which had gone viral even before he finished painting it in May 2019. In fact, my goal was to see this mural.

Located on the outside of the Harriet Tubman Museum, this mural is a powerful
image of Tubman inviting the viewer to join her on a journey to freedom.

And of course, “Take My Hand,” is just off of Race Street on the side of the Harriet Tubman building: look for the little plaza with the mosaic mural at 32 Race Street (parking is available just opposite), and follow the signs to the back of the building to see this Harriet Tubman mural.

Detail from the Mosaic Mural.

Tubman had been born just a few miles from the location of the town, enslaved by a white plantation owner. She escaped in 1849, making a perilous journey through the marshes before reaching safety in Pennsylvania. She returned to the region more than a dozen times over the following decade, risking her life repeatedly to save other enslaved people, including members of her own family.

Cambridge has only recently begun celebrating local Dorchester County hero Harriet Tubman, more than a hundred years after she died, but now the town and the county are all in.

In addition to Harriet Tubman, the town also celebrates Black and African American history and heritage. In front of the Take My Hand Mural is the Black Lives Matter street painting, incorporating local history, including the likenesses of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, who was also born on the Eastern Shore into slavery.

There was traffic coming down the street, so I didn’t get a good chance to photograph the Black Lives Matter street painting, designed by local artist Miriam Moran and painted by volunteers, but I was struck by the cool Amanda Gorman medallion, featuring the inspiring quote from her inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, “For there is always light if we’re brave enough to see it, if we’re brave enough to be it.”

Also new in 2021 is a mural, also painted by Moran, featuring a powerful quote by Coretta Scott King, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” The mural appears on the side of the Mount Moriah New Life Ministries building, at 1024 Cosby Avenue.

Just around the corner from there are the two new murals at 911 Washington Street: Believe and A Kid from Cambridge. Believe was painted by Cambridge native Bobbie Ennels. The mural on the opposite side of the building, A Kid from Cambridge, was also painted by Moran. She was inspired by Emory Jones, a Cambridge native who is head of lifestyle at Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s mega-successful entertainment agency.

Many of the local murals celebrate the beauty of the land around the town: its marshes and the wildlife in it. A new mural at he Chesapeake College Cambridge, also on Race Street, features three of the birds very familiar to those who live in the area: a green heron, a great blue heron, and an egret. The mural was painted by Red Swan, a women-owned Baltimore-based mural studio.

Likewise, the mural painted on the exit/entrance to the Cambridge Marketplace shopping center, “Marsh Song,” was painted by Rosato, and captures the natural progression of seasons, featuring wood ducks taking flight from the water surface, as well as other birds and animals.

Further afield, the U.S. Flag mural, painted by nationally known artist Scott LoBaido. He has dedicated himself to painting the American flag on one veterans’ post in each state. For Maryland, he selected the exterior wall of the American Legion Post 243 in Hurlock.

Getting there:

Race Street, Cambridge Murals

  • Chesapeake College Mural — 418 Race Street, Cambridge
  • Take My Hand — 423 Race Street, Cambridge
  • Black Lives Matter Street Painting — 429 Race Street, Cambridge
  • Mosaic Mural — 432 Race Street, Cambridge

Other Cambridge Murals

  • Believe and A Kid from Cambridge murals — 911 Washington Street, Cambridge
  • Coretta Scott King Mural — 1024 Cosby Ave, Cambridge
  • Goose on a Caboose — 200 Trenton St, Cambridge
  • Reflections on Pine Street — Near the corner of Maryland Avenue and Route 50 in Cambridge
  • Big Bird Mural — Best view of the mural is from the drawbridge over Cambridge Creek (near Maryland Avenue and Academy Street). Close up: 108 Commerce St., Cambridge (walk around the back of the J.M. Clayton’s building)
  • Ode to a Waterman — Dorchester County Visitor Center, 2 Rose Hill Place, Cambridge
  • Marsh Song — 700 Cambridge Plaza, on the back of the two front signs (so you’ll have to go up close to the two fastfood restaurants (Wendy’s and Taco Bell) to see it.
  • Wizard of Oz — 2759 Dorchester Square, Cmabridge
Other Dorchester Murals
  • American Flag Mural — 57 Legion Drive, Hurlock
  • Hurlock Train Mural — 101 Poplar Street, Hurlock
  • East New Market Murals — Main Street & Railroad Avenue, East New Market
  • Native American Life Mural — 104 Race Street, Vienna

Read more about our previous visit to the Murals of Chesapeake Country.

The Hurlock Train Museum, painted by Rosato in 2020.

Interested in learning more about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad? Check out the articles below:

The Wizard of Oz Mural

Follow the MidAtlantic DayTrips on FacebookInstagramPinterest, and LinkedIn.