Sacred Ground, Sacred Stories of Slaves in Our History
Buried at a tiny cemetery cradled in the valley at the Bishop Claggett Center are the stories of three enslaved families that once worked and cared for the owners of the once prosperous farm. A special task force now works to restore that sacred land and searches out and tells those stories in monologues and drama to all who will listen.
Slave Gravesite Task Force
Formed in 2008, the task force is creating awareness of and building respect for the contributions enslaved people made to the history and development of what is now the Bishop Claggett Center. Its mission is to preserve a sacred and culturally historic site.
- Research the history of the site and the people, enslaved and free, who lived there.
- Beautify and restore the grounds.
- Retell the history for young and old who might visit the site.
- Partner with Episcopal Churches, historic organizations and civic groups.
- Identify and establish permanent financial and human resources.
Importance of Mission
- The Episcopal Church has called its people to repent for their support of slavery and segregation in the past.
- The Diocese of Maryland has committed itself to overcoming the effects of racial discrimination.
- Our Bishops have called for initiatives on racial reconciliation.
- The Bishop Claggett Center was founded as a place of racial interaction.
- Mariam Barrett, Church of the Holy Trinity, Baltimore
- Reba Bullock , Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Baltimore
- Brenda Coakley, St. Philip’s Church, Annapolis
- Bill Fallowfield , Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Baltimore
- Shequila Jacobs, Church of the Holy Covenant, Baltimore
- Andre Liggins, St. Luke’s Church, Baltimore
- Ellie Lopez, St. James’ Church, Baltimore
- Celeste Morgan, Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Baltimore
- Patricia Jackson, Church of St. Katherine of Alexandria, Baltimore
- LaVerne Johnson, Church of the Holy Trinity, Baltimore
- Donna Seniff, All Saints’ Parish, Frederick
- Brenda Strong, St. James’ Church, Lafayette Square
- Geraldine Waters, Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Baltimore
Journey from Birth to Death
14 Educational Stations on the Life, Work and Play of Three Enslaved Families
On 14 trees along the half mile walk to the cemetery are markers with information about HOMES, BIRTH, FOOD, CLOTHING, WORK, RECREATION, WORSHIP, UNDERGROUND RR, MANUMISSION, ILLNESS and DEATH. Using data from the 1840 will of the owner of 32 enslaved people who lived on what is now the Claggett property, and census records, two- minute children’s plays were written for each station with response questions. Two-minute monologues by adults are being prepared for each station. Each type of drama will be presented in a DVD format for making a pilgrimage to the slave gravesite. See nine-year-old Betsy Nailor describe her slave quarters. Watch two young men, Jim and Charles Rix, seeking information about how to escape the farm. Listen to a young man commit himself to God before his Monocacy River baptism. These educational resources are available in the Diocesan Resource Center, at the Bishop Claggett Center or from the Slave Gravesite Task Force.
Support this Seminal Project by:
- Becoming informed: Invite the task force to your parish or group
- Volunteering: Planning, fund raising, making presentations, leading tours, research
- Contributing: Checks sent to Claggett Center, PO Box 40, Buckeystown MD 21717, Please indicate your gift is for the Slave Gravesite in the memo line of your check.
- Purchase DVD “Sacred Ground, Sacred Stories” for $25 at St. Bede’s Books at the Diocesan Center, 410-243-1727