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Towson

East Towson residents are mapping the ‘Road to Freedom’ in a new campaign

East Towson celebrated Earth Day 2022 and raised awareness of its Road to Freedom campaign on April 24. It was a perfect day for the Earth Day celebration -- sunny, blue cloudless skies and plenty of birds chirping.

Historic East Towson is currently in the middle of a renaissance, and the Earth Day celebration and Road to Freedom campaign trail event kicked off the latest chapter.

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Nancy Goldring, president of Northeast Towson Improvement Association, is heading this initiative. She is the latest of influential and driven East Towson residents devoted to keeping the historic community alive. For the past three years, Goldring has been working alongside other residents of East Towson to protect the legacy of one of Central Maryland’s oldest African American communities.

Community members and local politicians were in attendance, including District 6 Baltimore County Council candidates Tony Campbell, a Republican, and Democrats Caitlin Klimm-Kellner, Michael Ertel and Shafyq Hinton. More than 100 people gathered for this event.

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“This is a dream we want to see come forth, " said Goldring.

This initiative centers on East Towson and its historical impact in the community.

“If there was no East Towson there would be no Towson, if we’re being real,” said Beth Miller, member of Green Towson Alliance.

Road To Freedom envisions a partnership with nature and area residents in the creation of a trail revealing a history hidden in plain sight. This endeavor will connect the historic places and spaces of East Towson all the way back to the Hampton National Historic Site, a former slave plantation and now national park where the community’s story of freedom, perseverance and resilience began.

“It’s a matter of when, not if, this trail will come to be,” said Klimm-Kellner .

This new pedestrian and cycling route will create an environmentally healthy and peaceful recreational space that improves the lived experience of people of all backgrounds while bridging communities.

“We’re supporting the Northeast Towson community, because there is too much environmental racism happening,” said Deborah “Spice” Kleinmann from the Greater Baltimore Group of the Maryland Sierra Club. “This community needs to be celebrated.”

The 200-year milestone of the community’s existence is fast approaching. They hope to get the trail accomplished by then.

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Supporters of the Freedom Trail include Republican County Council member David Marks, the Greater Baltimore Group of the Maryland Sierra Club, the Green Towson Alliance, and Carol Brooks, a Goucher College graduate and Maryland Lynching Memorial Project participant. These supporters are helping to raise awareness of East Towson’s struggles to survive and now prosper with this newly proposed trail.

“This is not a project you do by yourself,” said Goldring. She originally got the idea for the trail in August 2020.

The community’s Juneteenth Music Festival kicked off the renaissance last year. There will be another one this year. Tickets are available online now.

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“Preserving green spaces is our goal,” Miller said.

The event included education on East Towson, prayer, singing, and an open mic for attendees to speak.

A sign read, “Imagine Towson as a Trail Town.” The event was a picnic-style gathering on the moderately sized green space next to the Carver Community Center.

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Former community members were in attendance, recounting stories of when East Towson was in its prime. Michael McGrogan is one of them. “How nice it was to come home.” McGrogan said.

“I ride through Towson and there’s nothing but brick-and-mortars. I ride through East Towson and there’s birds singing,” commented one person in attendance who did not want to be named. “We need this community.”

“We’ve been through a lot. In the spirit of Earth Day, East Towson has paid her dues,” said Goldring.


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