Why should we celebrate Freetown? Here's why

September 29, 1996|By Lillie Caldwell-Walker

PSYCHOLOGISTS tell us -- scientific research bears this out -- that focusing on negative aspects of a situation or relationship tend only to exacerbate that which is considered unacceptable rather than correct or diminish it.

Consider the low self-esteem experienced by the individual who is constantly reminded of his failures and who is never praised, commended or recognized for his accomplishments.

A community, like a living being, can and does, indeed, grow. Its people prosper with pride when it is recognized and applauded for accomplishments achieved, and when the negative activities which occur there are played down, or seldom, if at all, made public. So, what's good about my community, Freetown? I'll tell you.

The name denotes that of a town in Sierra Leone, West Africa, the land of my ancestors. It also describes the social condition of this area during that period in history when, in many parts of Maryland, people of African descent were still experiencing the shackles of slavery. Until the recent explosion of housing and land development in Anne Arundel County, much of the land that comprises Freetown was owned by proud African-American families. Many descendants of those families still reside there today.

The Freetown Improvement Association was the dream of four men who lived there. They came together in the late spring of 1954, motivated by the pressures of the time and an eager desire for a better way of life in this rural community, which was, yet, without paved roads, street lights or adequate school facilities.

Many of the public services which were received in neighboring white communities were non-existent here. These four pioneers were the late Sherman Bouyer, John Coats, Rev. Charles Pearman (grandfather of Honorable Judge Clayton Greene, Jr.), and George Caldwell, Sr., the only remaining survivor. On June 10, 1954, parents and friends of the community adopted the name Freetown (Christian) Improvement Association, and elected their first officers.

With the encouragement and assistance of the Rev. Leon White, and the late George Crowford, Freetown began slowly to make positive, but dramatic changes.

With persistence, the association petitioned the county Board of Education to provide an adequate school building for its students. These children attended the old two-room school building from as far away as Elvaton, Marley and Solley. Bus service was not provided for many black elementary school children.

The new Freetown Elementary, which continues to produce some of the county's brightest students, is a testament to the association's diligence. The association purchased the old school building from the Board of Education and later petitioned the county to renovate and remodel it into a community multi-purpose center, for which it is used today. They also petitioned the county to build and maintain adequate artery roads throughout the community, namely, Freetown and Howard roads.

Freetown is comprised of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural population, whose occupations span a wide range: homemakers and domestic workers, nurses, doctors, educators, engineers, custodians, ministers, clerks, civic workers, news reporters, artists, construction workers and artists of various forms of art. The Honorable Judge Greene was born and reared in Freetown. His parents still reside here, among numerous families whose ethics, character and morals are above reproach.

The homes located in Freetown are of various styles. They range from rambling bungalows to split-level and split-foyer, single-family dwellings, to condominiums, apartments, and yes, housing for those whose incomes, unfortunately, are low.

You see, Freetown is a community in which compassion and caring for one another has always been at the heart. So, not only are the affluent and more educated welcome, but also those who may just "need a hand up."

Support groups and churches of various denominations serve the community's religious needs. They also give aid to the less fortunate through outreach programs, which include sick and prison ministries and donations of food and clothing. The youth of the community are academically encouraged and supported by the churches, Phi Delta Kappa, (a teacher's sorority) and also by the Anne Arundel police officers who maintain a resident headquarters in the area.

Annual events such as community clean-up week and Freetown Recognition Day are hosted by the improvement association. Neighboring communities and friends are invited to share in celebrating Freetown.

Why celebrate Freetown?

I celebrate Freetown, because I have found a lot that's so good about it.

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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