xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Annapolis couple can remember the city before desegregation. Now, a pocket park’s name honors their community service.

Lifelong Annapolis residents Lloyd and Gilda Fowlkes have seen the city change from being segregated to naming a park after them.

Gilda was born on Clay Street and her father, Alphonse Addison, was one of the first Black aldermen in Annapolis. She remembers when she was growing up going to City Dock, where there were segregated bathrooms and water fountains.

Advertisement

“We have made great strides in this city and even more to go, we are not there yet but we are not where we used to be,” Gilda said.

Ward 2, which includes Clay Street, was home to a thriving Black community and had Carr’s Beach — a popular concert venue for the African American community during segregation. A pocket park on McGuckian Street, where the Fowlkeses currently live, was recently named after them and is also in the ward.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The Fowlkeses have dedicated many volunteer hours and have provided musical entertainment as well as imparted professional educational knowledge to thousands of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County residents for more than four decades.

“We didn’t know our sharing and outreach touched so many hearts, but this is very rewarding to see,” Gilda said. “We are pleased about what we do and will continue to serve. This is very gratifying to know people have been keeping up with our lives this long.”

They are thankful to be a part of the Black history in this city, which already has so much of it, Gilda said.

“The Black communities have already had so many hindrances, it is great to create some positive ones,” she added.

Advertisement
Lloyd Fowlkes and Joey Barber, members of the Bates Jazz Ensemble, talk before playing at the Bates Alumni Day at the Bates Senior Activity Center in Annapolis. Before desegregation in 1966, Wiley H. Bates High School was the only high school in Anne Arundel County that African Americans could attend.
Lloyd Fowlkes and Joey Barber, members of the Bates Jazz Ensemble, talk before playing at the Bates Alumni Day at the Bates Senior Activity Center in Annapolis. Before desegregation in 1966, Wiley H. Bates High School was the only high school in Anne Arundel County that African Americans could attend. (By Joshua McKerrow, Staff)

Lloyd started playing music when he was 12 and joined a band a few years later called “Pipe Dreams.” He remembers playing shows for all-Black crowds, and that there were more properties and businesses owned by Black residents than now. He retired from playing music two years ago.

“We used to play with Chuck Brown, Otis Redding, Sammy Davis and we went all over,” Lloyd said. “Over the years things have got better, but it seems like our people don’t own as much. It was like it changed overnight. We had hotels, drug stores and everything.”

Janice Hayes-Williams, an Annapolis historian, said the Black population has been decreasing since the 1980s. She said desegregation is the reason for fewer Black owners in the city.

“Once we could go to other places and urban renewal came that changed the face of the city,” Williams said. “Ward 2 was completely self-sufficient until desegregation. Carr’s Beach ended and everything after did too.”

The Fowlkeses moved to McGuckian Street in 1975. Near their home, Lloyd said he noticed people used to dump trash in this small park area and he would clean it up. He never imagined the city would name it after him.

The “pocket park” is situated at the pedestrian access point at the end of McGuckian Street that is an often-used pedestrian and bicycle throughway adjacent to Ceremony Coffee Roasters. Pocket parks are frequently used public spaces created on small, irregular pieces of land, often in vacant building lots or along the center of a broad avenue.

Mayor Gavin Buckley, Alderman Fred Paone, Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles and State Sen. Dana Jones presented the couple with citations Thursday at a ceremony for the park’s dedication.

“People have been using this park in an informal way for years,” Paone, who represents Ward 2, said in a statement. “This more formal park with seating and proper landscaping will make it a great place for families to take a break. Recreation and Parks did a great job taking on what the Fowlkes family has been doing for decades.”

Lloyd said it was a beautiful transition from what it used to look like.

“These workers are great,” he said, “and it looks fantastic.”

Lloyd wanted to remind people of one thing: “Love thy neighbor.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement