Historic East Towson, an African-American community unique to Baltimore County and the nation, is a thriving, tight-knit enclave adjacent to Towson’s urban core. Descendants of the original settlers – men, women and children formerly enslaved at the nearby Hampton Plantation – still live in the neighborhood today. This presentation focuses on the political events that have had a major impact on Historic East Towson for generations and new plans that could radically impact its future.
Carol Allen, creator of, “East Towson: From Jim Crow to Black Lives Matter,” served for over two decades as Executive Director of Historic Towson, Inc. In that role she oversaw the addition of several buildings and districts to the National Register and Baltimore County Final Landmarks List. She is a Past Chair of the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission. With her rich experience as an historic preservationist, Carol accesses an extensive body of work to advocate for justice, equity and equality for a what remains of a community with a past that offers considerable political context to much of what dominates our attention on the world stage today.
Nancy Goldring is the newly elected President of the Northeast Towson Improvement Association and grand-daughter of longtime and highly esteemed leader of Historic East Towson, the late, Adelaide C.V. Bentley. Nancy’s great-great grandfather, James Williams, founded the Mount Oliver Baptist Church at the corner of York Road and Bosley Ave some 130 years ago in the community then known as Sandy Bottom. Her family continues to serve and worship there today. Earlier this year that Nancy learned of her family’s ties to manumitted slaves from the Hampton Plantation also still here in Towson. The National Historic Society’s Ethnographic Study confirms that Nancy’s family and others have indeed been in Towson, “Since the Beginning,” and long before the American Civil War. Nancy speaks with us today from her lived experience and a commitment to protect her community’s unique thread in the fabric of American history.
Together, Carol and Nancy merge their unique experiences and present this historic African American Baltimore County neighborhood from its very beginning through many societal pressures to its present day. With photographs and narration, they paint a surprising and little known picture of racial and environmental injustice and its impact on this tight knit community. In doing so, the undeniable power of history transforms our understanding of the past and unlocks our collective creative capacity to design and share in a more enlightened and equitable future.