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Sandy Spring Slave Museum and African Art Gallery

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The showpiece of the Sandy Spring Slave Museum is The Great Hall, a 6,000 square foot white two story house chocked full of artifacts and documents. The Hall’s five galleries recognize the struggles, contributions and accomplishments of Blacks through periods from slavery to civil rights.

On the proud faces in pictures and portraits on the wall of the Offord Room, I saw some of the family members whose names appear on the bronze plaque I’d seen on the shady lawn outside. These were the men and women who, along with the Quakers, lived and worked the land in and around Sandy Spring and many of who's decendents still live in the area.

In another room was a collection of racist advertisements including several for Bull Durham smoking tobacco which show inky skinned, red thick lipped Negroes using badly broken English to praise the virtues of
the product.

Continuing into another room I found a hooded Ku Klux Klan costume purchased from a former Klan member along with a black bag and a hanging knotted looped rope. On the wall in the same room are a slave bill of sale and a copy of a KKK Charter. Having grown up in rural North Carolina, I shivered as I recalled the dark nights when my single mother told my brothers and me to be quiet when we heard unexpected noises outside our rural house which bordered the edge of a thick wooded area. As I viewed the wall of tether, wrist, leg and ankle shackles, I empathized with my ancestors forced to wear these wrought iron implements.

The museum includes a collection of tools, utensils and instruments I’d used or seen used as a farm child of the rural south. Some of these included cross saws, scythes, axes, hoes, galvanized tin wash tubs, washing boards, and even a chamber pot.

Other rooms in the museum reflected
more prosperous periods when Blacks were able to attend college, practice their professions and purchase silver serving sets, fine china, furs and other luxuries enjoyed by the majority race.

A wall with black and white pictures of civil rights icons also shows a collection of colorful hats similar to those worn by Dorothy Height, the renowned African American administrator, educator, women’s right activist and Nobel Prize winner.

In addition to an extensive collection of instruments, textiles, furniture and other artifacts, The Great Hall includes a formal meeting space that honors the Black Church and its role in Black History. The authentic pews in the meeting space were purchased when a Washington, DC church closed. They were stored for ten years before finding a home in the museum and now provide seating for the handful of elderly worshipers who come to the museum every Sunday for fellowship.

The museum offers lectures, presentations and videos, all aimed at bridging the information gap and informing all ethnic groups about the advantages of cross-cultural communication and diversity as expressed through the arts and humanities.


If you go

The Sandy Spring Slave Museum and African Art Gallery
18524 Brooke Road
Sandy Spring, MD 20860
http://www.sandyspringslavemuseum.org/

Sandy Spring is 20 miles north of Washington, DC. From the 495 Beltway, take the New Hampshire Avenue exit North. Continue 11.5 miles on New Hampshire Avenue crossing Routes 198 and 108. Go 1 mile. Turn left onto Brooke Road. Go one mile.

Except for open houses in June and November, prior appointments made at least a week in advance are required to visit the museum.

Admission fees are generally $5/person, unless otherwise arranged. Credit cards are not accepted. Tours last approximately 1.5 hours. Visit the museum’s website for additional information or contact the museum at email: slavemuseum@yahoo.com.

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