Elmer Brown Freedom Park
The Elmer Brown Freedom Park serves as a reminder of the African-American contributions to the growth and development of St. Mary County, Maryland. The main structure of the monument is a pyramid, representing the strength and endurance of African-Americans throughout history. The stone and mortar which comprise the monument symbolize strength and survival, and the size of the stones represents the accomplishments of diverse peoples. Atop the monument is the eternal flame, which symbolizes the constant presence of the region’s forefathers.
Backstory and Context
Elmer Brown conceived of the idea of a monument to African-American contributions to the region at a social dance during Black History Month in 1994. He spearheaded a group of community members to create a monument honoring the African-American community's contribution to the growth of St. Mary County, Maryland on June 30, 1994. The group named itself the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions of St. Mary's County (UCAC) and worked together with planners, builders, writers, and community supporters to establish the monument. The monument recognizes African-American contributions to the following areas: Religion, farming, domestic service, trades, education, industry, business, art, entertainment, community service, health, sports, government, politics, law enforcement, politics, military service, and technology. In addition to creating the monument, another stated goal of the UCAC is to record oral histories of the oldest African-Americans in the community, a crucial task to ensure that no story is forgotten.
The UCAC dedicated the Elmer Brown Freedom Park on July 29, 2000 in Lexington Park, Maryland to serve as a reminder of the African-American community’s contribution to the growth and development of St. Mary’s County. The monument’s primary feature, the pyramid, was constructed of stone and mortar, symbolizing creativity, strength, survival, and multiculturalism. The choice of natural stone was based on Reverend Faircloth “F.C.” Barnes’s hymn “Rough Side of the Mountain.” To Mr. Brown, "the stones and the shape of the monument represent the difficult struggle of blacks climbing the rough side of the mountain to get to the other side." The size of the different stones represents the diverse accomplishments of all people, rich and poor, known and unknown.
Atop the pyramid is a flame symbol, known as the “eternal flame.” The eternal flame of the monument symbolizes the constant presence of the forefathers, and expresses gratefulness to them. The torch is then passed on to future generations.
Browne, Allen C. The African American Monument In Elmer Brown Freedom Park. January 24, 2017. https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=101012 (accessed April 30, 2018).
Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributors. https://www.ucaconline.org/about.html (accessed June 3, 2018).