FREDERICK, M.d. (WDVM) — More than 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation, but countless slaves wouldn’t get the news until years later. That event is now known as Juneteenth.
Belva Bowie King has lived in Frederick almost all her life. She remembers when schools in the city began integration back in 1954.
It’s these historic moments for African Americans, as they happened locally, that she’s working to keep alive.
“The kids need to know what we went through. It wasn’t easy. There was a time we couldn’t even go into the restaurants, we couldn’t ride the buses,” King explained.
King joined dozens of city and county officials, and members of the community Tuesday to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth.
“In 1863, when slaves were actually freed, we didn’t learn of this until 1865. So on the nineteenth of June, when the order was decreed and we learned of this, that’s when the celebration began,” explained Angela Spencer, local resident and former chair of the Frederick Human Relations Committee.
But beyond the notice of freedom centuries ago, King is also gathering and spreading the word about African Americans here in Frederick.
“You can go in the archives and find anything you want to nowadays, so that’s how we got out newsletter together,” King said.
In Belva’s Newsletter, she recalls local history like the creation of the first pool in Frederick for African American’s now known as the William R. Diggs Memorial Swimming Pool.
The pool was among a list of requests made by African American physician, Dr. U. G. Bourne, and fellow residents in 1934.
They made six other requests for Mullinix Park and the City of Frederick.
“[They asked for] a bath house and a shower in Mullinix Park, and requests one of our group be assistant janitor- [Bourne] wanted us to work there instead of the whites,” said King.
The newsletter is circulated to about 300 people. Among those readers, King hopes its young eyes that take in past.
“Our kids need to know more about us, so they can be better in the future. It’s just something they need to know,” King says.
On Saturday June 22, 2019, A Juneteenth celebration will take over Mullinix Park.