ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — The Montgomery County Council recognized Black History Month at a ceremony in Rockville Tuesday morning.
14-year-old Daniela “DD” Gonyoe opened up Tuesday’s ceremony with an original poem about her experience growing up Black. Other residents’ experiences go back decades farther than DD’s, but they too shared similar stories of growing up Black in historic Montgomery County communities.
“We kept on pressing on, we kept on struggling, we kept on striving, we kept on keeping our pride and dignity, and they don’t understand that now,” said Carolyn Taylor and her uncle Reverend Cyrus Glenn Taylor, who grew up in the Emory Grove area of Gaithersburg. “A lot of strong people came out of that community.”
Reverend Taylor’s grandmother was a slave on a farm in Damascus.
Their community of Emory Grove was originally settled by freed slaves and became heavily influenced by religion, family ties and fellowship in the years that followed.
“We did have people who were a great influence on us, who were trying to raise the children up,” said Carolyn.
She says her uncle, who is 13 years her senior, experienced more challenges than she did growing up Black in Montgomery County. He attended segregated schools throughout his youth.
“Carver was the only Black high school in Montgomery County, all Black,” Rev. Taylor said.
You may know it now as an MCPS building that sits off of 355 in Rockville, it’s home to many offices and the Montgomery County Board of Education. But when Rev. Taylor graduated 65 years ago, it was known as Carver High School.
“Every high school student from Poolesville to Silver Spring had to go to Carver High School, it was the only black high school for colored people,” said Rev. Taylor.
The Taylors encourage young people to learn more about their history and the struggles of those who came before them.
“We as individuals have to do the best that we can to love one another and lift each other up. We are the survivors, and we want our children to be proud of that, to know how strong they are, and that’s important to me,” said Carolyn.