Going back in time with Emancipation Weekend

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“We have here Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park, which is where the programming started 20 years ago,” said Shirly Spicer, Museum Manager with Montgomery Parks.

The programming celebrates Maryland’s emancipation of slaves in 1864.

“This site provides us an opportunity to talk about life after freedom and those early free black communities where people are creating what we have here in this road side community, a small commerce area,” said Spicer.

Oakley Cabin housed residents through the 1970s.

Five Montgomery Park locations are holding activities for Maryland’s Emancipation Day, including Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park, which sees the most foot traffic on Emancipation Weekend.

“Sandy Spring is an area where there is known to be, historically, activity on the Underground Railroad,” said Spicer.

It had a large Quaker community, known for freeing their slaves, who then went on to help more people achieve freedom.

“We know both through oral history and documentation that they have provided help to runaways or freedom seekers coming through the area,” said Spicer.

Now, this former Quaker plantation offers a simulated Underground Railroad hike, but ironically, its Quaker owner in the 1800s did not free its slaves.

“It helps us tell a very complex story of slavery here in Montgomery County, and as a border state, we already have a complex story,” said Spicer.

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