Accokeek, Maryland–On September 24th the Accokeek Foundation’s 11th annual African American Heritage Day will celebrate the region’s history and culture with “Enduring Traditions: Rich Connections to Our Past” at the National Colonial Farm at Piscataway Park. Bring the family for a day full of music, living history demonstrations, children’s activities, fascinating panels, and the best soul food this side of the Mason Dixon line.
Arrive early to enjoy the 11 am appearance of Culture Kingdom Kids, who will perform poetry that chronicles the lives of famous Marylanders like Harriet Tubman and Thurgood Marshall, dance to such favorites as “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and finish by engaging the audience in performing the group’s “Walk Through Our History” song. Then take a trip through African American musical history, from the stirring voices of the Gospel Soul Seekers to the celebrated Washington Revels Jubilee Voices to the Sandra Y. Johnson Trio’s soulful jazz and blues.
Stroll out to the historic farm house and kitchen (don’t be surprised if a few chickens stroll along with you), where costumed interpreters will provide a lively introduction to Maryland’s African American past through cooking, quilting and conversations about what daily life was like. From the farm’s kitchen garden to the authentic tobacco barn to the resident hogs, sheep, and cattle, you will feel as if you have stepped back in time. Children can play games from the past and may be asked to help with the chores. Also on hand at the farm will be Trooper Dick Crawford and members of the Greater Washington DC Chapter 9th & 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association of the famous Buffalo Soldiers, sharing another aspect of the “enduring traditions” of African Americans’ contributions to the history of our country.
In the Education Center two fascinating panel discussions will be moderated by Ted Mack, chair of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. The first panel will explore the topic of food justice and the role of African American farmers in Maryland. The second panel will focus on historic preservation of not only buildings and cemeteries, but also of historically significant homes. Also in the Education Center, oral historian Wayne Rose will gather stories of visitors’ family history and traditions.
Wander down to the fishing pier with its majestic view of George Washington’s Mount Vernon across the Potomac River and visit the Heritage Market. You can buy fresh produce from farmers and a variety of products from area vendors, from quilts and jewelry to luxury soap and glass art. Fabulous soul food will be provided by The Stress Reliever, a newcomer to the area’s food truck scene, with a menu that includes fried and baked chicken, collards, okra, mac and cheese, and peach pie. Learn about trapping and fishing from Morris Smalls, a Gullah man originally from South Carolina who will demonstrate his “tools of the trade.” Louise Webb and Dorothea Smith of the Charles County African American Heritage Society will demonstrate creative ways African Americans have found to recycle and reuse common household items. Also on hand will be representatives from other cultural organizations in the region with information on upcoming programs, as well as a professional genealogist who will provide advice and guidance on tracing your family’s African American ancestors.
Activities will take place from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Early arrival is encouraged to see the opening performance at 11 am. Admission is $5. Accokeek Foundation members and children 2 and under are free. Online advanced admission sales are available.