Civil Rights Leader's Historic Aberdeen Home Faces Foreclosure, Community Raising Money For Rescue
ABERDEEN - An Aberdeen residence with profound ties to Maryland's civil rights history is at risk of foreclosure. The house, owned by civil rights figure Janice Grant, may be lost unless $50,000 is raised by the end of July.
Grant, 89, is well aware of the significance her residence holds. As a past president of the Harford County NAACP Chapter, she contributed significantly to the African American community's fight for their voting rights in the U.S.
"I want the young people to understand their history," Grant told WJZ-TV in Aberdeen.
Grant, now 90, talked passionately with the news station about the house, which has been in her family since 1917 and became a focal point for civil rights advocates. "The Freedom Riders used to gather at this house," she said. A celebrated civil rights champion, Grant famously worked alongside Andrew Goodman and James Chaney in Mississippi to assist with registering Black voters.
Grant shared her recollections of the 1960s civil rights movement, describing the racial bias and voter suppression African American voters faced.
According to the Harford Civil Rights Project at Harford Community College, Freedom Riders held protests on Route 40 and surrounding regions in 1961 to combat racial segregation in eateries and hotels.
Grant told WJZ that when local churches feared arson attacks for supporting civil rights efforts, her home stood as a safe meeting place for Freedom Riders.
"The Freedom Riders knew this was a house they were welcomed," Grant said.
Despite commitments by some venues to eliminate segregation following high-profile incidents involving African diplomats, not all did so. Consequently, young activists conducted sit-ins at whites-only establishments, leading to arrests and altercations.
Maryland's Public Accommodations statute, prohibiting racial discrimination in businesses, was enacted in 1963. The passage of this landmark legislation was primarily attributed to the Freedom Riders protests.
Six decades later, this critical piece of Harford County history is now at risk of foreclosure.
A community-led GoFundMe has raised over $4,000 towards the goal of $50,000. You can contribute to saving Janice Grant's historic home here.
"The preservation of historic landmarks serves to anchor us to the past, providing a tangible reminder of the struggles and triumphs that built the foundations of our present society. Mrs. Grant's home is not merely a physical structure; it is a repository of memories and stories that deserve to be cherished and shared," Patricia Cole, the GoFundMe organizer wrote.
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