The South Bentz Street School was the first black elementary school in Frederick. Three educators taught grades one through six. Teachers taught two grades at a time. The school operated from the 1880s until 1939, when its students relocated to Lincoln Elementary.
A Concise History of Black Frederick
Text contributed by AARCH (African American Resources – Cultural and Heritage) Society of Frederick, MD
Upon the establishment of Frederick County by European settlers in the 18th century, African descended people were both free and enslaved. Many fugitive Blacks formed Maroon communities with local Native Americans before the arrival of the English. African Americans labored in agriculture, industry, were skilled artisans, and engaged in business. Blacks advanced Frederick County during the colonial era and into the Revolutionary War both on and off the battlefield.
After the war for independence, the population of free Blacks in the Frederick region grew. This inspired greater abolitionist efforts as well as severe laws passed to restrict the freedoms of all African Americans. Despite this, free Blacks established crucial organizations for social, cultural, religious, educational and economic upliftment including the Underground Railroad during the 19th century.
With the Civil War, the status of African Americans changed drastically as over 3,000 Blacks from Frederick fought for freedom in the conflict. The Reconstruction Era in Frederick witnessed an explosion of churches, cemeteries, schools, political associations, and the establishment of Black towns throughout the county.
As Reconstruction ended, the “Jim Crow” era heralded in segregation and the violent treatment of African Americans in Frederick County. This was met by the Frederick Black community with the creation of important institutions to address the needs of African American citizens in medicine, education, religion, culture, economics, politics, and social concerns while simultaneously fighting in both World Wars.
As the Civil Rights Era progressed, Black Frederick residents were exceptionally active in national and local efforts to end segregation and attain equal rights for all. The collective struggle of Black Fredericktonians to ensure justice and equality in Frederick and beyond has continued to the present.
Emancipation Association Pin
The Emancipation Association was established in 1890 to commemorate the release of an initial Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln on September 22nd. The celebration of Juneteenth started on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended (41 days following the Appomattox surrender) and enslaved people were free. Different states were emancipated at different times. Maryland was emancipated on November 1, 1864. This pin is from 1910. Today, Frederick citizens use Juneteenth to celebrate Emancipation. From 1891 through the 1930s, Frederick’s celebration was held at the Fairgrounds in August.