Two new signs will be unveiled in Freetown and Pumphrey on Tuesday as part of the historic sign initiative to preserve the rich history in Anne Arundel County communities.
The initiative, which was launched in 2020, will result in 10 county-wide wayside interpretive signs. The locations were determined by nominations that the Office of Planning and Zoning’s Cultural Resource team received, according to Jane Cox, the chief of cultural resources.
“Freetown and Pumphrey both have very active community members that are really passionate about protecting the history and sharing the history of their communities,” Cox said. A consultant from the cultural resource team worked with community members who shared what they thought was most important to highlight about their historic communities.
Ramocille Johnson is one community member from Pumphrey who helped create the sign.
Johnson, a member of the executive board of the North Arundel County Preservation Society, helped compile the history and transformed it into a narrative.
“We wanted to be sure that our children, generations to come and present generations, know something about the historical significance of the area because a lot of times that history gets so lost,” Johnson said.
For Freetown, Lillie Caldwell supplied the information for the wayside marker. Caldwell said she has been collecting history about the area since the 80s, and she grew up in the area.
“When I think about the history of Freetown, I reflect on the history of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Rosewood, Florida and other Black enclaves across America that were started by or developed by African Americans who had the need to survive and a determination to survive,” Caldwell said.
Communities like Pumphrey and Freetown have been able to be self-sufficient and also thrive despite fires, Jim Crow-era laws or any other social inequities, said Caldwell.
“I am very thankful to our ancestors and the people who were before me who saw the value and the need of protecting those accomplishments that they had achieved and pass on the legacy to future generations,” she said.
The unveiling starts at 3 p.m. Tuesday will last around 25 to 30 minutes. It will include brief presentations from Freetown and Pumphrey representatives, Cox said.
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“The idea is that we want people to kind of let it marinate in their everyday life — if you will — so that they see that the history is there, it’s all around them,” said Cox. “It’s not just going to downtown Annapolis to visit a mansion, but the history is in the street names, it’s in the local community organizations that still exist.”