The Commemoration and How It Has Come To Be

Written By: Maggie Bennett

Along with all the other construction going on around the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) campus, there is also a new commemoration, which will finally be unveiled to the people of St. Mary’s County on Nov. 21. 2020. Along with this unveiling is keynote speaker Jelani Cobb.  who is “known for his wit, style and pop culture credibility: Jelani Cobb. Cobb is billed as one of the clearest and smartest voices in today’s conversations around race issues.” 

According to the Mulberry Tree magazine, “the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland is an immersive art experience that honors the story of resilience, persistence, and creative problem solving that defined the lives of the enslaved individuals that lived in St. Mary’s City between 1750 and 1815.” People will be able to read the poetry off of the building and learn what slavery in the county was like. Field trips from other schools could also come to campus to learn about the lives of enslaved people in St. Mary’s City.

This commemoration is based on the slave artifacts as well as quarters found nearby the new stadium. President Tuajuanda Jordan herself, and some other archaeologists dug up these artifacts. “The Commemorative is a structure inspired by the ‘ghost frame’ architecture at Historic St. Mary’s City.” These ghost frame structures are all over Historic St. Mary’s City surrounding the St. Mary’s College of Maryland campus to show the historical significance of St. Mary’s City. 

It has taken many months to get to this point, but the campus is finally putting in a ‘ghost frame’ with erasure poetry. This ghost frame of poetry signifies the lives of slaves who were in St. Mary’s. “The poetry is adapted from historical documents related to the Mackall-Broome Plantation- one of three known plantations located on the land around St. Mary’s City.” This frame includes an inside, but people cannot go inside of it because it is a sacred part of history. 

In one class at SMCM called “Race and Place,” some students have interviewed other students on their knowledge of the commemoration. These interviewers learned that not many students knew much about the commemoration, but now it will be known all over campus. 

At night, there will be a light on inside of the ‘ghost frame’ to illuminate the words on the outside of it. “Illuminated from within at night, the poetry is projected onto the ground surrounding the commemorative, mimicking a star-like pattern…”There is a star-like pattern to it because this signifies the North Star, the star Harriet Tubman followed to become free. So, people will also be able to experience the history of this commemoration at night. 

This is an exciting time for a commemoration to open because it can be used as a teaching method to the students here at SMCM. It is a plus for students looking into the archaeological  field of study, as well as for the Race and Place class. It is a great way for people to not forget the past, and a reminder to not make the same mistakes in the future. 

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