Mural celebrates African-American heritage
— The City of Cambridge and Dorchester County Tourism dedicated the county’s newest mural Friday, July 21, as part of the four-day “Reflections on Pine: Cambridge commemorates civil rights, community and change” series.
The mural, which is at the corner of Mar yland Ave. and U.S. Route 50 in Cambridge, highlights Cambridge’s African-American history, culture and heritage, particularly in the community around Pine Street, which is one of the oldest African-American communities in the country, dating back to the mid-1800s.
The 11-foot-by-48-foot mural was created by artist Michael Rosato, whose studio is in downtown Cambridge. Rosato’s work is featured in museums, public spaces and private residences across the country, including the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City, Okla.
At the center of the mural is Harriet Tubman, a Dorchester County native and conductor of the Underground Railroad. To her right is Gloria Richardson Dandridge, a key figure in the civil rights movement in Cambridge in the 1960s.
The other figures in the mural represent a Tuskegee airman; Dr. J. Edwin Fassett; Nurse Maxine Magee, one of the first AfricanAmerican public health nurses in the country; Ella Fitzgerald, one of many popular African-American musicians who performed on Pine Street; and small business owners and everyday people whose contributions may not be as well known but resonate to this day, such as a bricklayer, a barber, a baker, a farmer and a high school athlete.
Greg Meekins, member of the Dorchester Elks Lodge 223 and Sailwinds Park Inc., said Rosato is a talented artist, and he created a magnificent mural.
“I got tears in my eyes when I first saw the mural,” he said. “It is a living history.
“This is my home,” he said. “I lived here at a time where we did see ashes. Can you build a new world on the ashes of the old? I stand before you to tell you in the year 2017, we can and we will build a new community on the ashes that were all from Pine Street. For that to happen, it will have to take all of us. It is not going to be easy. No efforts when it comes to improving life comes easy.”
Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley said the word that came to mind when she sees the mural is love.
“Look at the faces of all of those people,” she said. “The athlete loves running. The farmer loves to farm. We all love Ella Fitzgerald. Looking at every one of those faces is about love. Every one of you standing in this hot sun on this beautiful day loves Cambridge so much.
“Fred Jackson, my daddy, your friend, your cousin, fought with Gloria Richardson, stood with her to make these little guys over here safe in our community,” she said. “We are going to continue the struggle,” she said, until the soil is cleaned with love.
“I am for the fight,” she said. “Yell as loud as you can so the negative nellies out there will know that even though they are negative, even though they are not with us, they will not stop us from moving forward.”
Dorchester County Tourism Director Amanda Fenstermaker said the county received money for the project through a grant, and the mural is one of six murals by Rosato around Dorchester County. She said the murals were planned by the Gateway Planning Committee and Sailwinds Park Inc.
The other roadside murals include a big blue heron at J.M. Clayton Seafood Company, the “Ode to Watermen” mural on the Dorchester County Visitors Center, and other murals in East New Market and Vienna as part of the Chesapeake Country Mural Trail.
“This is a beautiful and wonderful thing,” she said. “This mural project represents a convergence of a bunch of different things. We turned this into a really unique series of roadside murals. Michael, you are a true jewel of the community.
“We are a community,” she said. “There is a lot of love here. I am excited about the momentum and progress we can make when we are all bonding together and starting from a place of love.”
When Rosato stepped to the podium, the moment and emotions moved him so much he could not get many words out to describe his emotions of seeing the mural.
“I poured myself into these murals,” he said.
Dorchester County Council president Ricky Travers said Rosato is a very gifted and talented and local artist.
“This reflects the life of wellknown African-Americans, Harriet Tubman, Dr. J. Edwin Fassett, Nurse Maxine Magee and Gloria Richardson Dandridge,” he said. “Also in the mural are everyday people who represent the farmers, the bakers, the people who lay bricks, the people who cut hair, athletes, military airman and family.
“This mural reflects people from over 50 years ago who worked hard to raise their families and help make our community the place it is today,” he said. “Times were not always easy. This mural gives us a chance to remember our past, reflect on the things that change over these past 50 years and realization that our future is
The Cambridge and Dorchester County community dedicate the county’s newest mural, which celebrates Cambridge’s African-American history.
Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley talks at the dedication of Dorchester County’s newest mural, which celebrates Cambridge’s African-American history.