Black trailblazers to be celebrated when MCAAHC meets in Chestertown on April 1

CHESTERTOWN — The next public meeting of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture will be held Monday, April 1 in Chestertown.  Jaelon T. Moaney, a Kent County native who is deputy director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, will host.

The meeting, with the theme of “Black Trailblazers in the Natural World,” will include a talk followed by an optional walking tour of Chestertown led by Starr Center community historian Airlee Ringgold Johnson and scholar-practitioner Darius Johnson.

According to a news release, the walking tour will explore the rich Black history and culture of Kent County, spanning centuries of living legacies, and “is meant to be an evolving restorative effort.”

For the talk, Moaney has invited two guest speakers to share their unique insights as trailblazers in their respective practices, each centering on diverse representation and empowering experiences in nature.

Ashleigh Hairston is a show writer and the voice of Wren in Cartoon Network’s Maryland-based “Craig of the Creek,” which was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Children’s Animated Series category, as well as a story editor of “Jessica’s Big Little World.”

Mariah Davis is the environmental justice officer at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The meeting will take place in Bethel A.M.E. Church at 237 North College Ave. on Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The historic significance of the church is in keeping with the talk’s theme as it is the site where Freedom Riders found solace during the 1962 protests in Chestertown.

The walking tour will immediately follow the talk.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Attendees are requested to register for the meeting at

Moaney said in a written statement: “It is an incredible honor to bring the Commission to Chestertown by hosting my very first Public Meeting where Freedom Riders found solace throughout the 1962 protests, especially during Maryland’s Year of Civil Rights. As a Kent County native, the gravity of expanding and normalizing accurate notions of Black adventure, resilience, dignity and ingenuity, particularly in rural places and spaces, holds immeasurable significance to the reverent shoulders on which I stand and future Delmarva Peninsula stewards.”

The MCAAHC, the nation’s first statewide ethnic commission, is committed to discovering, documenting, preserving, collecting and promoting Maryland’s African American heritage.

The commission also provides technical assistance to institutions and groups with similar objectives. Through the accomplishment of this mission, the MCAAHC seeks to educate Maryland citizens and visitors about the significance of the African American experience in Maryland.

According to its website, Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores the American experience in all its diversity and complexity, seeks creative approaches to illuminating the past, and inspires thoughtful conversation informed by history. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large.

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