The Washington Informer Charities 11th Annual African American Heritage Tour on June 24th to Montgomery County started at Allen Chapel AME Church in Southeast where participants received gift bags and bus assignments and enjoyed a continental breakfast. Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes and Advertising Director Ron Burke welcomed participants and thanked Allen Chapel for opening its doors. Two buses were loaded for a short ride to the first stop with tour guides provided by Juanita Katon. Guides Sandra Moore and Bill Holland pointed out notable landmarks during the ride. (Photos by Robert Roberts and Shevry Lassiter)
One of the tour stops was the Button Farm Living History Center in Rockville. Anthony Cohen, founder and President of the Menare Foundation, operates Button Farm. He told how he designed the Underground Railroad Immersion Experiences at the farm in 1997 to prepare Oprah Winfrey for her role in Beloved.
Cohen, who was adopted by a Jewish family, hence the name, took participants to an area containing herbs and vegetables grown during the times of slavery. Other sightings were the no kill hog pen, a barn, a farm house, and a wagon. Participants passed around a recreated tool used to punish slaves as Cohen explained its use.
The bus stopped at the Boyds Negro School on White Ground Road in Boyds, Maryland where tour guide Nanette Hunter told the history of the one-room 22 x 30 foot wooden building.
Heated by a wood stove, the Boyds Negro School served as the only public school for African Americans in the Boyds area from 1895-1936. Students in grades 1-8 walked for miles to attend class.
The tour stopped at the Josiah Henson Museum & Park in Rockville and received information about Henson’s life from the Museum’s docent, Mark Thorne. Visitors were given a tour of a slave kitchen that showed a bed area stowed above the stove. The kitchen included the original clay floor. The slave kitchen was attached to the big house.