Oral History of Mrs. Diane Weems Ligon, completed at her home on April 23, 2011. Mrs. Ligon discusses her family's connection to Lakeland, as one of the founding families. She describes how her grandparents and parents met and what they did for a living. Her parents were both civil servants, her father working in the District of Columbia, and her mother at Fort Meade in Columbia, MD. She discusses her siblings, a brother and sister, and her own experience being born and growing up in Lakeland. She describes the different schools she attended, Lakeland Elementary, Fairmount Heights High School, Howard University, and New York University. Ms. Ligon attended segregated schools throughout her education, until she reached graduate school at NYU. She discusses the effects of attending segregated schools, including the lack of material resources for African-American schools, the exceptional quality of teachers in those schools, favorite teachers, and after school activities. She also speaks about Prince George's County's resistance to integration, and the effects segregation had on her life as she experienced it both in the county, in the District of Columbia, and through discussions with her parents in her home. She explains the unity of the community of Lakeland with the surrounding African American communities and how Lakeland was the choice location for the high school because of its position in the middle of the Route 1 corridor. Mrs. Ligon discusses a trip she took after sophomore year in college to India, which was the first time she lived with people who practiced religions other than Christianity, which was an eye opening experience. She later explains how the trip to India helped her transition to graduate school, where again, she was living with people from different cultures and religions. Until graduate school she attended mainly all African-American institutions, and outside of the trip to India, had never lived outside of Lakeland. She describes leaving graduate school early to pursue a career in social work, a career choice she attributes to her rearing in Lakeland. She remained in New York City for fifteen years before returning to Lakeland with her daughter. Upon returning to Lakeland she worked for the District of Columbia government, and then for the Prince George's County Health Department, where she currently still works part-time after coming out of retirement. She describes the difference in her education and the education of her daughter in Prince George's County in the 1980s, not only the different between segregation and integration, but the quality of the education her daughter received. She also describes the Urban Renewal project in the community, and her perspective as someone who was not in the community when the redevelopment happened and as someone whose family was not displaced. She said the redevelopment had both good and negative impacts on the community, and how though her family wasn't negatively impacted, she understand why some families were and are so upset about the project. She briefly discusses the impact of having the University of Maryland as a neighbor to the community. She explains it was a place for employment, but it was also a constant reminder during segregation of where African Americans couldn't attend. Throughout the interview Mrs. Ligon discusses the small community experience for African Americans, their sense of place, self, and rootedness. She explains that Lakeland's story is part of a larger narrative for African American history, and that the history of Lakeland is probably similar to many of these small communities. She also disputes the idea of education as a way out explaining that education was not necessarily a way out, but a way for people to achieve more, and have more opportunities for work.
An oral history interview conducted with Julia Pitts during Lakeland Heritage Weekend 2008. Mrs. Pitts discusses her childhood in Beltsville, Maryland. How living in a predominantly white community affected her childhood, the relationships that existed in that community, and being educated in an all African-American, one room school house from first to seventh grade. Though she was born in Montgomery County, Maryland, where her parents met, they moved to Beltsville when she was young. She describes how her family lived on the "white" side of Beltsville, and how she walked to school on the other side of Beltsville, because the school in her community was only for white children. She discusses her relationships with white children in that community, how the community stuck together, and how she didn't feel the effects of segregation until later in life. She also discusses her different places of employment. After dropping out of school after seventh grade, to help her mother support the family after her father died, she worked as a nanny for people within her Beltsville community. She later got a job at the University of Maryland, through a contact in her community. She worked at the University on the housekeeping staff, a job she didn't keep for long, because she applied for a position with Prince George's County. She spent most of her life working for Prince George's county as a community aid. Mrs. Pitts explains segregation's effect on her life, on the lives of her two children, and on those who lived in the Lakeland Community. She discusses in detail a case of discrimination at a local bank, which prompted the NAACP involvement. She briefly explains how she felt about Urban Renewal in Lakeland, and how other people in the community felt about it. Her home was not affected by Urban Renewal but she understands how it effected others who lost their homes. A common theme throughout the interview was Mrs. Pitts' involvement in church groups and both the Baptist and Methodist churches in Lakeland. She is an active member of Church Women United, and mentions the organization several times throughout the interview.
James Weems (third row, second from right) was inducted into the U.S. Navy in 1944 and went for training at the U.S. Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, MD.
An oral history interview conducted with Thelma Lomax during Lakeland Heritage Weekend 2007. In this oral history, former first lady of College Park Thelma Lomax discusses her community involvement with Lakeland from the early 1950s to the present. Thelma Lipsey Lomax married into the Lakeland community in 1953. Her husband, Dervey Lomax, was a Lakeland native, city councilmen and the first African American mayor of College Park. During this interview Mrs. Lomax touches on her life and experiences in the community. Early life family and community life, segregation, urban renewal and even Maryland basketball are all points of discussion during this interview, Mrs. Lomax's connection and commitment to her family, church and community are thoroughly described.
Snack time at Lakeland Elementary School's kindergarten class during the 1965-66 school year. One class member, Maxine Gross reports "there was always milk and graham crackers".
Baltimore Blvd & Navahoe Motel-Buddy Lutz
Mr. Arthur Dock was born and raised in North Brentwood, Maryland. His father was a sand and gravel employee, and his mother, who worked as a domestic, passed away when Mr. Dock was a young boy. His aunt helped to raise Arthur and his three siblings. Mr. Dock recalls that North Brentwood, where he attended elementary school in the 1940â€™s, was a close-knit African-American community where everyone was concerned about the educational and social well-being of the children. The schools and churches played a large role in safeguarding the security and well-being of the community. He describes some experiences of attending a segregated school, including how teachers were short of supplies and what books they had were handed down from white schools (usually Mt. Rainier or Hyattsville.) Mr. Dock attended Lakeland High School from 1946-1950, and was part of the last graduating class of Lakeland High School. Like other African American students in Prince George's County, he rode the bus to Lakeland. Again, he recalls the second-hand materials that the school received, but fondly remembers the quality education he received there. Mr. Dock feels strongly that the teachers made an exceptional educational experience for the students, preparing them for a life and career in the segregated world. One important lesson he recalls is that African American students were taught to speak well, use appropriate English, be on time, and look decent. Mr. Dock formed a close bond with one teacher - Mrs. Walker and speculates that she took special care of him because his mother had passed when he was young. He stayed in touch with Mrs. Walker until her death in the mid-2000â€™s. This serves as one example of how the teachers in Lakeland wove themselves into the fabric of the community, taking the time to visit students at home, serving as mentors and role models. Most of Mr. Dock's reminiscences center around his conviction that folk made the school“ especially the teachers. It is not surprising, then, that Mr. Dock went to Bowie University, after graduating Lakeland High School in 1950, to become a teacher. His experiences at Bowie cemented the idea that education had a purpose and could be used to market yourself to the job market. After graduating Bowie University in 1954, and spending a two-year stint in the army, Mr. Dock began teaching in the Prince George's County school system, starting at a two-room school in Holly Grove, Maryland. But the segregated school system began to change, after the Brown vs Board of Education decision in 1954 forced an end to legal segregation. Mr. Dock seemed more affected by the fact that the integration of schools in Prince George's County caused competent black teachers to move to mostly-white schools, signaling an end to their effectiveness. Mr. Dock enjoyed teaching, especially science, and it is obvious that his teaching style was influenced by the education he had received in Lakeland, and that he attempted to replicate that experience for children during integration, a time of great social upheaval for adults and for children in Prince George's County. He was promoted from teacher to Helping Teacher (a quasi-supervisor for teachers) and then to Vice-Principal at Concord Elementary in District Heights. After two years of training, Mr. Dock became the principal of Ardenwood Elementary School, a country club school in the County. From there, he went to the decidedly less glamorous Bladensburg Elementary School, which he enjoyed immensely for about two years. He spent the rest of his career in a middle school implementation team position that he did not like, as it kept him out of the classroom and away from teaching children. Mr. Dock emphasizes that one of the major drawbacks of the integration process was that talented black teachers were sent to white schools, where they were not as appreciated and were decidedly less effective. He saw his role as trying to make the transition to integration smooth for the teachers and the students, implementing new teaching procedures and curriculum that seemed to replicate the educational experience of Lakeland and help the students to market themselves for the outside world. He also wanted to properly assign teachers to subjects where they had an expertise or strength. He pushed to instill discipline in the students and have the teachers set expectations, or benchmarks, in the learning process so that students could mark their progress. Finally, Mr. Dock emphasized the importance, at the time, of athletics in the schools, and how the students were able to travel around the county. Athletics became another field in which African-American students could achieve success in their segregated world. Recorded at Caroline Hall, University of Maryland College Park.
At Baltimore Avenue and Navahoe Street
Baltimore Boulevard & Navahoe Street Motel owned by Buddy Lutz
Front on Baltimore Avenue
In 1960, Dervey and Thelma Lomax sought to enroll their son Gregory in a nearby, predominantly white elementary school, but the school board denied his admission. After a second denial a year later, the Lomax family, with the assistance of the local NAACP, appealed to the state board of education. The local board settled by admitting Gregory as a second-grader to the predominantly white College Park Elementary School. The following year he was joined at school by his younger brother Elston and a few other young Lakelanders. Gregory Lomax is shown as an elementary school student.
This is an interview conducted during Maryland Day, 2011, at Cole Fieldhouse. The interviewees answer questions on topics of sports in Lakeland, segregation outside of the community, bussing and integration of the school system, Lakeland's interaction with the University of Maryland, and raising children within the community.
Property at Baltimore Avenue
National Mobile Village Navahoe Street 48th Avenue
Calvert F. & Mary A. Long 8141 Baltimore Blvd, College Park MD
Interview transcript Delphine Gross with her grandmother, Agnes Gross for a class in the 1980s Agnes Gross' house was on the land of the College Park Community Center, but was taken bc of eminent domain. They then relocated to a property in on 54th Ave. Agnes Gross is the youngest of 14 siblings. The interview is marked up with notes from the teacher. The first page is the interviewer asking Mrs. Gross about her family, her hometown, and when she was born, more about her background in Murkirk - her schooling, the church she attended, etc. Asking about a nearby school, Mrs. Gross's father's land, and Mrs. Gross's work history. Going into detail about Mrs. Gross's family, what she stored during WWII, and her siblings., More about Mrs. Gross's siblings - then more of her work history. When doing domestic work, she was paid as little as a quarter an hour. Mrs. Gross raised her baby-sitting rate to a flat five dollars, which was somewhat expensive at the time. For context, she also says that you could get the best pork chops for fifty cents. She also speaks on how some things, mainly convenience, are better now than they were when she was younger, and how some things are worse (such as crime). Speaking of how times have changed, such as the segregation in public spaces she faced when she was younger. Also speaking about life during the Depression - you would help anybody who came to your door., Working conditions - people, especially black people, were paid very low wages. Often they'd work until they physically couldn't anymore - she speaks of old women who would "pull themselves up on the streetcar" because they needed the money from working.
This is an audio recording of an open panel discussion about Lakeland and the surrounding area's history of African American education, which allowed all participants to contribute when compelled. Participants included former residents of Lakeland and students of the Lakeland School, as well as students from the University of Maryland American Studies program under Dr. Mary C. Sies. Professor Sies introduced the focus of the 2011 project on education before the beginning of the discussion. The following dialogue included how education played an integral role in the Lakeland community. The participants discussed their experiences of going to grade school during times of segregation and then integration/desegregation.
Given the opportunity to speak informally with Mary Day Hollomand at her home in the company of her two children, Lisa and Larry, the interviewers hoped to explore the changing perspectives of Lakelanders over two generations. During this same period Prince George's public schools transitioned from segregation to de-segregation. The discussion brought out differing attitudes towards several issues. Mary Day received her entire education in Lakeland “ from the age of six, when she left Sadie Plummer's private schoolhouse in Brentwood to start at Lakeland elementary, until she graduated from Lakeland High School in 1947. Mary Day had a deep and ongoing desire to involve herself in the life of the school and, in turn, the community. Her activities ranged from Glee Club to Safety Patrol to Homemakers of America. But she was most passionate about basketball, which she shared with her neighbor, her teammate and best friend, Patty Adams. Like many Lakelanders of her generation, Mary Day singled out Mrs. McClellan from among her high school teachers. She was really brilliant and she helped everybody. Mary Day noted that she did all this while her husband was serving overseas during World War II. She also singled out Bessie Mack, her first-grade teacher, and Mr. Arnold, who then had to serve in the army. Both lived in the neighborhood. Mary Day and her daughter acknowledged that the commitment of teachers to help students progress in their education changed after de-segregation. Lisa and Larry pointed to the lack of personal connections with their teachers, in part, because few of them lived in Lakeland or were familiar with the community. This is not to imply that Lisa and Larry, who attended integrated schools throughout, felt categorically that white teachers were less dedicated to African-American students. Lisa recalled her English teacher at Parkdale High School, a white woman, who was very intelligent and very strict she took an interest she was passionate about her craft, and she wanted to make sure that everyone got it. It was true, however, that integration did not really create more choices for Lakelanders. Larry wanted to go to Highpoint for high school, but because of the district where they lived, both he and Lisa had to attend Parkdale. Lisa was not involved with activities in high school, which her mother had a hard time understanding. I didn't go to any of the dances, I didn't do prom. I had friends who were cheerleaders and the pom-pom squad. Instead her focus, from the age of ten, was figure-skating. A few weeks after graduating from Parkdale, she joined Disney on Ice, moving from Lakeland, Maryland to Lakeland, Florida, to train with an international troupe. Mary Day supported her daughter and the family would travel to her performances. Most importantly, Lisa felt that this experience was invaluable and shaped me more than my formal education. Although Lisa did not follow in her motherâ€™s footsteps as far as taking part in the community, when it came time to leave Disney on Ice and enter college, she did feel strongly about the fact that her mother had been denied the opportunity to attend University of Maryland during segregation. Mary Day had attended Bowie State for just a week, then continued at Howard University in DC. Because of the curfew and the lack of much social life on campus, she spent a lot of time with her parents commuting back and forth from Lakeland. Lisa had also wanted to go to Howard. It was a tradition within the family, through her father's side, and it was a matter of pride for her. Instead, she started at Prince George's Community College, then transferred to UMD for her junior year. She recalled that the classes were much larger at the university and I was just a number. Her most memorable professor was Kazuo Yaginuma, who taught Japanese. She had toured for four months in Japan with Disney on Ice and this allowed her to reconnect with her past. Lisa spoke at length about her studies in Japanese, and nothing at all of her major, which was psychology. Long after finishing her degree, Lisa reconnected with the University of Maryland when she came to host foreign-exchange students from Japan on a summer program in College Park. They accommodated one student in their home, and Lisa's knowledge of the language helped to forge bonds. Lisa commented that Asians and African-Americans at the university did not interact very much. And Asians who had not grown up here would have seen African-Americans in the stereotypes portrayed on TV either [as] a movie star or a criminal. Mary Day recalled how they took one Japanese student to see a slave ship in Baltimore and the emotional impact it had on both mother and daughter to share this history with their guest. Mary Day also spoke about her experiences after college, as she had at Embry Church in February. At Howard, she studied health and physical education. She was the first woman in her family to attend college. She then went on to a career with the Census Bureau and then twenty years at the National Security Agency. She described how typically white employees would be given a test to advance in the agency. African-Americans were passed over, but one day Mary Day complained to her supervisor, who agreed to let her take the test on the spot and she passed with no time to prepare. Mary Day commented that people just did not speak up. Mary Day has lived for much of her adult life in the same house now forty-one years. At present her children live with her in this house. So we asked what they thought the future might hold for younger generations of Lakelanders trying to make a home for themselves. Could Lakeland return to the kind of close-knit community that once existed? Lisa and Mary Day had their doubts. Mary Day looked back to the time when she knew just about everyone in between Rhode Island Avenue and the railroad tracks. Today, by contrast, many of these older neighbors have died or families just sold or rented their houses when they moved elsewhere. It's not the same community that it used to be. For Mary Day, the community has continued to shrink physically, making it that much harder for younger families to stay. She blames urban renewal for that. First, the separation from east of the tracks, where many Lakelanders were forced from their homes. We tried to get (the city) to build single-family houses here, because there were a lot of people who wanted to stay and who had to move because of the floods. In the end, all the available area to build was taken up with the new elementary school. As Mary Day sees it, the city was just playing lip service, they never really intended to put up single-family houses, but rather high-rises which would change the density and character of the neighborhood.
On Thursday February 07, 2013, members of the Lakeland Community Heritage Project (LCHP) visited Dr. Mary Corbin Sies's class in "Social and Ethnic Issues in Historic Preservation" at Holzapfel Hall on the University of Maryland Campus (Seminar Rm 1108). The members that participated in the discussion were: Violetta Sharps Jones, Avis Matthews, Maxine Gross, Pearl Lee Campbell Edwards, and James Edwards III. The discussion was centered around the semester-long project the students will be working on regarding Lakeland and Urban Renewal. There was also discussion of Lakeland's history, it's relationship to the University of Maryland, segregation in College Park and in the Prince George's County school system, as well as everyday life in Lakeland.
Class Picture from College Park Elementary School during 1965-67 school year
Physician at Berwyn
Baltimore Avenue at Navahoe St
Washington Post July 16, 2015 Emily Badger and Darla Cameron Railroad tracks and other physical barriers were often used to separate Black and white communities. In many cases these divides remain today. Segregation was build into the physical fabric of cities. Examples of this are explored in Milwaukee, Washington, DC, Detroit, Buffalo, St. Louis. Kansas City, Mo., Tampa, Shreveport , Hartford, and Pittsburgh.
Black Explosion January 24, 1974 Page 5 University of Maryland employee relations officer and black faculty and staff association member, Charles Carroll was elected to College Park's city council. He is the sole Black voting member of that body. Mr. Carroll is in favor of urban renewal but said it must be a benefit to the community. He is concerned about elderly members of the community having to move out and being faced with hardship cased by higher rents. He would like to see more Blacks gaining administrative work with the city. To date the only Black employees are refuse collectors. Other concerns expressed were traffic noise and the concept of lowering the age for holding of municpal elected office from 25 to 21. To be an elected city official an individual must also be a resident for at least 90 days and own property.