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Women in Black History
The City of Annapolis celebrates Black History Month by recognizing local African American accomplishments and achievements.
Hon. Cynthia Abney Carter
Cynthia Abney Carter was the first African American woman elected to the Annapolis City Council.
Alderwoman Carter completed her education at Sojourner Douglass College and jumped into community service, intent on improving the lives of underserved Annapolis residents. She served on boards and was an active member of Holy Temple Cathedral. One of the biggest issues she tackled was crime among youth. She realized she could tackle other civic challenges through legislative action. In 1997, she ran as a write-in candidate for the Ward 6 City Council seat and won. She broke the glass ceiling for numerous alderwomen that followed.
Rev. Dr. Carletta Allen
Pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church, believed to be the oldest African-American Methodist Congregation in Anne Arundel County
Born in Tampa, Florida and raised primarily in Washington, DC and Prince George’s County, Dr. Allen also lived with her Air Force family in Japan for two and a half years, gaining an appreciation for other languages and cultures. Dr. Allen worked in corporate marketing before becoming a lay minister. She earned her Master of Divinity and later a Doctor of Ministry, both from Wesley Theological Seminary. Since her ordination in 1996, she has served five congregations in the area. She is a sought-after teacher, speaker, writer and the secretary and archivist of the Caucus of African-American Leaders.
Faye W. Allen, M.D., “Dr. Faye” Allen
Dr. Faye W. Allen, was the first African-American female doctor in Anne Arundel County. ”Dr. Faye” was born July 5, 1921 in Springfield, Ohio. After obtaining her nursing degree from Ohio State University, she went on to achieve her medical degree from Howard University. Post graduation Dr. Faye and her husband Dr. Allen ran a joint medical practice in Annapolis for over 34 years. During her full-time practice, she also worked part-time as a clinician with the Anne Arundel County Health Department. She was named an honorary staff member for life at the Anne Arundel General Hospital. Throughout her life she was active in various organizations and received several honors and awards.
Elizabeth Carr Smith
Read more about Elizabeth Carr Smith
Elizabeth (Carr) Smith was the owner-operator of Carr’s Beach.
Elizabeth Carr Smith ran a successful business in Annapolis for more than four decades. During the time of segregated beaches, Carr’s Beach was a top attraction not only in Annapolis, but in the mid-Atlantic. Carr’s Beach and the neighboring Sparrow’s Beach were two of the major Chesapeake Bay resorts that catered exclusively to African Americans between the 1930s and 1960s. The two beaches were owned and operated by sisters (look for more on Florence Carr Sparrow tomorrow!).
Mary “Florence” (Carr) Sparrow
Read more about Mary “Florence” (Carr) Sparrow
Florence Sparrow (1890 -1989) was the owner of Sparrow’s Beach, a private African American beach in Annapolis.
Florence Sparrow ran a successful business in Annapolis for more than four decades. During the time of segregated beaches, Sparrow was instrumental in making a family-oriented establishment that included motel rooms, picnics, boat rides, food stands and live entertainment.
Read more about Marita Carroll
Marita Carroll, born on November 2, 1922 and raised in Eastport, Annapolis, Maryland was a Civil Rights activist and teacher. She graduated from Wiley H. Bates Colored High School and continued to earn her Bachelor’s from Bowie and later achieved a master’s from New York University. After school Marita began her professional career in education teaching at the Harwood Colored School, the Colored School in Eastport, and in 1963 integrated Eastport Elementary School. Carroll was also one of the Annapolis Five, who helped to desegregate Annapolis restaurants after their 1960 sit-in and arrest. She relentlessly advocated and fought for inclusion of African-Americans in all arenas.
Elizabeth Carter was the head of the Suffrage League. She pushed for voting rights for women in a movement that was dominated by white women. In 1920, the first time women were allowed to vote for president, Carter and her chapter of the league’s effort helped advance a record turnout. Reports from the era indicate that the line for voting at the precinct on Clay Street was four blocks long.
Mary Church Terrel
Read more about Mary Church Terrel
Mary Church Terrel was a prominent African-American activist in Annapolis in the late 19th and early 20th Century.
Mary Church Terrel was a well-known African-American activist who championed racial equality and women’s suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th Century. A resident of Highland Beach, Terrel was one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree (Oberlin College). She was a founding member of the National Association of Colored Women and a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1910, she co-founded the College alumnae Club, later renamed the National Association of University Women. Following the passage of the 19th Amendment, she focused on broader civil rights.
Hon. Sheila Finlayson
Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson represents Ward Four on the Annapolis City Council (2007 to present).
Born and raised in Annapolis, Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson earned a BS from Morgan State University (go Bears!) and an MS from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. For more than three decades she taught English and public speaking in Anne Arundel County Public Schools. She is past president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and served as the East Regional Director for the National Counsel of Urban Education Associations. Ald. Finlayson has received numerous gubernatorial and county executive appointments for educational and historical committees and commissions. She is a member of the Annapolis Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.
Charity Folks Bishop
Charity Folks was an African American woman who lived in Annapolis as both an enslaved person and a free woman.
Born in 1757 and held in bondage by Maryland Gov. Samuel Ogle with her mother and brother until the age of 10 or 12, Charity was sold to John Ridout. While still enslaved, she married husband Thomas who was enslaved to another Annapolis family. Together, they had several children including Harriet, Mary, Charity and James. Freed in 1797, she stayed in the employ of Mary Ridout. Her manumission was given in 1797, but not recorded in Anne Arundel County Court until 1807. Daughter Charity was issued a certificate of freedom in 1811. Charity purchased property on Franklin Street in Annapolis in 1832. In the late 20th Century, property she owned was studied as the “Courthouse Site” in Annapolis archaeology.
Janice Hayes Williams
Anne Arundel African American History
Janice Hayes Williams is an Annapolis-born historian who chronicles African American history in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.
Williams began her research with conversations among her immediate family members. Next, she began to explore the history of Asbury United Methodist Church and started going to cemeteries and recording death dates. She has since created walking tours in Annapolis, an app with locations and stories of African American history in the City and in Anne Arundel County. She writes a column for the Capital Gazette and recently launched Our Legacy Tours (OltAnnapolis.com).
Hon. Shaneka Henson
Delegate Shaneka Henson is the first African American woman to represent the City of Annapolis in the Maryland General Assembly.
Born in Anne Arundel County, Delegate Henson is a graduate of Coppin State University and the University of Baltimore School of Law. Her first elected office was to the Annapolis City Council representing Ward 6, where she served from 2017 until she was appointed to fill the seat of the late House Speaker Michael Busch in 2019. Del. Henson currently serves on the Appropriations Committee and is a member of the Legislative Black Caucus and Women Legislators of Maryland.
Hon. Classie Hoyle
Read more about Cassie Hoyle
Classie Hoyle, a native Annapolitan and very active member in her community, served as alderwoman of Ward 3 for 11 years. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degree in biology and science education from Morgan State University where she taught for over a decade. Later, receiving a Phd from the University of Iowa. Hoyle’s triumphs as alderwoman include amending the City code to include the term “alderwoman” and installing sidewalks on Forest Drive. She believes that her greatest legacy is installing historical markers around Parole, to serve as a reminder of what was replaced by gentrification.
Sarah V. Jones
Sarah V. Jones was the longtime supervisor of instruction for forty-one segregated schools in Annapolis and Anne County and the Stanton School.
Jones began as a teacher at the Rosenwald School in Churchton. In 1928, she was elevated to supervisor of elementary instruction for all of the segregated schools in Anne Arundel County. During her career, she was front and center in a teacher’s lawsuit for equal pay. The plaintiff in the case was Walter Mills, who became principal at the Parole School (later named for him). The landmark case was argued by none other than future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Peggy Kimbo was known as the “hostess of Annapolis” after serving more than 50 years as hostess at the Little Campus Inn (now Galway Bay) on Maryland Ave.
A “true Annapolitan,” Peggy Kimbo was the longtime hostess at the Little Campus Inn on Maryland Ave. In 2013, then-Mayor Josh Cohen had an honorary renaming ceremony for the street, nicknaming it “Peggy Kimbo Way.” She took in African-American midshipmen, providing a home away from home. She was so beloved that the Naval Academy made her an honorary member of the Class of 1958.
Lacey McKinney & Ethel Mae Thompson
The Annapolis Five helped to desegregate Annapolis restaurants after their 1960 sit-in and arrest.
At the segregated Terminal Restaurant in 1960, five brave Annapolitans staged a sit-in to break the color barrier. Two were women. Their actions helped to desegregate restaurants in the City. The five (Marita Carroll, Dr. Samuel P. Callahan Sr., Lacey McKinney, William “Lamb” Johnson, and Ethel Mae Thompson) were arrested and charged $100 after police asked them to leave the restaurant that was affiliated with the local bus depot. They refused. The date was Nov. 25 1960. The site is currently The Graduate Hotel.
In 1980, Midshipman Janie L. Mines became the first African-American female to graduate from the United States Naval Academy.
Janie Mines is a former naval officer who was the first African-American woman to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy where she earned a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering. She was born in Aiken, South Carolina and graduated as class Salutatorian from Aiken High School (1976). After serving in a variety of roles in the Navy, including senior advisory to the Secretary of the Navy, Mines became a management consultant. She later earned an MBA from MIT and held management positions in corporations including Procter & Gamble and Hershey Foods.
Bertina Larkins Nick
Read more about Berthina Larkins Nick
Bertina Nick was a lifelong resident of Annapolis and an activist and leader for the black community. “Ms. Nick” worked diligently as the president of the Greater Clay Street Development Corporation. In her role as president, she was dedicated to ensuring the underrepresented populations of Annapolis were well-represented. “Ms. Nick” was instrumental in transforming what once was the only high school for black students in the County into the Stanton Center. Her life’s work was preserving the African-American community in Annapolis through urban renewal projects.
George and Marion Phelps ran Opportunities Industrialization Center, a job training program, in Annapolis.
You may have driven down the street named for George and Marion Phelps in Parole. George was the first African American police officer in the county. He subsequently swore in more than 200 African American officers. Together, the couple established the first (and longest-running) job training program in the City. The Phelps were married for more than 50 years until Marion’s death in 2010.
Hon. Rhonda Pindell Charles
Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles represents Ward 3 on the Annapolis City Council (2013 to present).
A lifelong Annapolitan with family roots dating to the Civil War, Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles was elected to the Annapolis City Council in 2013 to represent Ward 3 (Parole). A lawyer by training, Alderwoman Pindell Charles worked at the early part of her career as a prosecutor in Baltimore City. She later transferred her skills to public education, serving Anne Arundel County Public Schools. She is a graduate of Morgan State University   (go Bears!) and the University of Maryland School of Law. Alderwoman Pindell Charles chairs the Public Safety Committee on the City Council. She is married with two adult children.
A lifelong Annapolitan with family roots dating to the Civil War, Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles was elected to the Annapolis City Council in 2013 to represent Ward 3 (Parole and the surrounding area). A lawyer by training, Alderwoman Pindell Charles began her professional career with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, Department of Natural Resources, and she later retired as a prosecutor in Baltimore City (1983-2004). Directly after retirement, she transferred her skills to the Anne Arundel County Health Department as the Program Manager for the Office of Minority Health (2004-2005), and then into public education, currently serving Anne Arundel County Public Schools as a School-Community Liaison Specialist (since 2006). She is a graduate of Morgan State University and the University of Maryland School of Law. Alderwoman Pindell Charles chairs the Public Safety Standing Committee on the City Council. She is married with two adult children.
Read More about Anne Price
Anne Price was the wife of Rev. Henry Price of Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church.
Anne Price was born into slavery and gained her freedom when her mother, Sail Wilks, managed to marry her off to Rev. Henry Price, a wealthy young free black minister, and son of Smith Price, founder of Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church. Price paid 300 pounds for Anne’s freedom. The two later helped Anne’s brother William gain his freedom by purchasing him at auction and legally giving him his freedom in 1831.
Eloise Richardson was the first librarian of color in Anne Arundel County.
Richardson wore many hats in her decades as a prominent Annapolitan. She was president of the Annapolis branch of the National Council of Negro Women (founded by Mary McLeod Bethune). The members were all highly educated professionals. In 1952, they held a forum on local radio station WNAV to acquaint the community with their new organization. She was later a columnist for The Capital and later the Afro American, writing community columns. She later founded the patient library at Crownsville State Hospital.
Eliza Mae Robinson
Read more about Eliza Mae Robinson
Eliza Mae Robinson had a long history of activism in Annapolis, organizing the longest rent strike in the history of Maryland.
Robinson, a resident of Ken-Marr Apartments (now Woodside Gardens), helped organize her neighbors to protest living conditions with a rent strike in the 1970s. She took on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the former management company - and won! She later served on the board of directors of the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis (HACA).
Early business tenants at Market House and in Downtown Annapolis included Lucy Smith, John Smith, William Bishop and Moses Lake.
In the early 1800s, Lucy Smith rented Stall No. 9 for at least seven consecutive years in Annapolis Market House. She also operated a bakeshop, “Aunt Lucy’s Bake Shop,”near the corner of Main and Green Streets. John Smith, Jr. was her son and alongside other African American entrepreneurs, including William Bishop and Moses Lake, free blacks owned and operated businesses in downtown Annapolis at the turn of the 19th Century.
Read More about Josephine Young
Josephine Young (1909 - 1983) served in the Woman Army Corps (WAC) during World War II and was a fixture in the Old Fourth Ward.
After World War One, blacks in Annapolis were suffering disproportionately from smallpox, infant mortality and tuberculosis. By 1938, the Anne Arundel County Tuberculosis Association encouraged black residents to form their own organization. Josephine Young, who would later go on to become a founding member of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County NAACP, became one of the organizing members. In an effort to combat disease, the group set about to help the community adopt good health and cleanliness practices. Churches organized and the PTA of Stanton ran daily programs.
Sydney Barber, the first Black Woman to lead the Brigade of Midshipmen.
On November 6, 2020 the Commandant Midshipmen announced the selection of the Naval Academy’s first Black woman brigade commander, Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber. Barber graduated from Lake Forest High School in Illinois and is now studying engineering at the Naval Academy. Among her many involvements, she is the co-president of the Navy Fellowship of Christian Athletes Club, secretary for the National Society of Black Engineers, and a member of the USNA Gospel Choir and Midshipman Black Studies Club. Barber assembled a team of over 180 midshipmen, faculty, and alumni to establish the Midshipman Diversity Team to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity within the Brigade. She also commenced a STEM outreach program utilizing mentoring, literature, and service lessons to middle school-aged girls of color.
Read more here