Black History Month provides the opportunity for both reflections on the past and the discovery of the future. Learn something new and explore Howard County.
As we celebrate Black History Month, here are just a few places in or near Howard County that serve as either landmarks of or showplaces for that history.
Throughout Howard County, you'll discover landmarks, museums, and heritage sites showcasing Black culture, history, and the road to freedom. From the Underground Railroad and the Network to Freedom, to Civil War Trails sites and the Simpsonville Freetown Legacy Trail, there are many ways to learn about Black history in Howard County.
The Ellicott City Colored School, Restored
Explore the one-room schoolhouse museum showcasing the history of African Americans in Howard County. Opened in 1880, eleven years before Patapsco Female Institute’s closure, the Ellicott City Colored School fulfilled an 1879 Maryland State law requiring that counties provide educational facilities for African American children.
The school—the first to be built with county funds—operated until 1953, before the landmark Supreme Court Case Brown vs. Board of Education called for the integration of public schools. In stark contrast with the lavish Patapsco Female Institute, the one-room structure was primitive; it never had running water, electricity, or central heating. The building serves now serves as a genealogical resource center and a museum highlighting the history of African Americans in Howard County.
Museum of Howard County History
Visit the Museum of Howard County History and Ellicott Mills Children's Museum for the First Saturday Children's Class on March 4th for a theme 'Meet Benjamin Banneker.' Each class includes a historically-themed craft.
Registration is $5/child/class and limited to the first 24 registrants. Online registration and payment for 1st Saturday Classes/Activities - for each child - are available at www.hchsmd.org.
Civil War Trail Sites
Civil War Trails® has been working with communities since 1994 to share their stories and connect visitors with small towns and big stories across a network that now spans six states. Travelers look to Trails to put them in the footsteps of the generals, soldiers, citizens, and the enslaved who found themselves in the midst of this Civil War.
B&O Railroad Station – The oldest railroad terminus in the U.S. (1831) was guarded by Union troops throughout the war. Is a free museum today.
Oakland Manor – Brothers Moses, William, and Joseph Shipley were slaves who labored here and on neighboring farms. Is an event venue today.
Art & Culture:
Rise Above - An Art Exhibition
Visit Howard County, in partnership with guest curator Marlon Powell with Art Vibez LLC, is excited to celebrate Black History Month with a new gallery featuring local artists from Howard County and beyond. The exhibit titled Rise Above will explore the resilience of Howard County’s black community and its legacy of rising above racism and conflict.
Rise Above: An Art Exhibit
This exhibit will also feature one of the area’s most significant historical figures, Benjamin Banneker, and will interpret his impact on American history. Featuring fine art in a variety of mediums, this exhibit will be on display at the Howard County Welcome Center from February 3 - April 30. Open Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 5pm. Closed Mondays.
The Harriet Tubman Cultural Center commemorates the history and significance of the Harriet Tubman High School legacy, and the impact of African Americans in Howard County and beyond.
The Harriet Tubman School opened in 1949 as Howard County’s only all-black high school until it was closed through desegregation in 1965 and was used by the Howard County Public School System for more than 50 years. On October 16, 2015, a Memorandum of Understanding was executed with the Howard County Public School System to transfer ownership of the Harriet Tubman School building and surrounding property (the “Harriet Tubman School site”) to Howard County to be preserved as a historic, educational and cultural center. The Harriet Tubman Cultural Center commemorates the history and significance of the Harriet Tubman High School legacy, and the impact of African Americans in Howard County and beyond.
After learning Harriet's story, set out to see the sites along the Underground Railroad and the Network to Freedom, including Locust Cemetery where Harriet Tubman hid alongside escaped slaves, and Freetown Road, a portion of the historic 150 acres in Simpsonville given to 17 freed slaves in 1845, now known as The Simpsonville Freetown Legacy Trail.
African Art Museum of Maryland
The African Art Museum of Maryland (AAMM), founded in 1980 as the first Museum in the planned community of Columbia, MD, is unique. It is one of only three museums of its kind in the USA devoted exclusively to the art of Africa. Of those three, it is the only one founded by an African American. Among other supports, it has been recognized as “one of the State’s most respected cultural institutions,” and in 2013 was cited as “one of the top ten places to visit in Howard County, MD.”
The Howard County Center of African American Culture
Stroll through history and learn about the rich and proud African American history of Howard County, Maryland.
Howard County Center of African American Culture
The Howard County Center of African American Culture will be holding a Black History Month Celebration Concert on February 5, 2023 6-8 p.m. at the Smith Theater at Howard Community College. There will be a showcase of gospel, jazz, spirituals, art song and contemporary choral and featuring a number of local artists. Tickets $50/person and can be purchased at HCCAAC.org/Tickets.
Rep Stage: Ghost/Writer
In this play by Dane Figueroa Edidi and directed by Danielle A. Drakes, family secrets spanning decades unravel as history and fiction collide. In 1920 just outside of Tulsa, Patrick, an Irish immigrant, seeks out the services of Ms. Ruby, a mysterious Black woman from Baltimore, known to help exorcise ghosts from her clients, but the price she is asking may be too high. Meanwhile, in 2019, Charles Ross hires infamous ghost writer Rebecca Warren to help him through his writer's block, but what she invokes could be his salvation or undoing. Edidi's new play examines the intersections of race and gender inviting us to explore the role of love, justice and joy in a world where the ghosts of the past have yet to be laid to rest.
Near Howard County
The Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum honors the land and legacy of Benjamin Banneker who lived during the 1700s. Located on 142 acres in the Patapsco River Valley, the Park & Museum offers public and private programs focused on Banneker’s life and his relationship to the land he inhabited.
As you explore these historic sites and cultural events, take time to recognize and honor the hardships Black Americans endured during this time in history, and their inspiring perseverance and bravery as they fought for their freedom.
With so many interesting things to do in Howard County, you'll want to make this an overnight getaway. Book a room in one of Howard County's hotels here.