The Blacks of the Chesapeake (BOC) is based in the District of Columbia, Maryland & Virginia areas. (DMV) However, with the Library of Congress’s designation as a “Local Legacy Project” has increased our reach regionally and world-wide. We have worked with the Art in Embassies Program U.S. Department of State, by recommending and supplying African American artists and images from the Chesapeake region. The BOC has gifted our Ebony Eyes on the Chesapeake Bay publications to foreign delegations from Ghana and other African Nations visiting the region. We have made presentations to Cultural Organizations in Trinidad &Tobago & Buenos Aires, Argentina with emphasis upon the significant contributions from Africans in the Diaspora in maritime.
Many people do not realize that the Chesapeake Bay watershed covers approximately 64,000 square miles, encompassing parts of six states- Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia - and the entire District of Columbia. More than 18 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Blacks of the Chesapeake’s (BOC) publications, projects, programs and exhibits help to educate the public about African American history and maritime community history. Our programs are helping watermen communities and museums, educational institutions and the general public at large.
The BOC preserves the Chesapeake Bay region’s African American culture as it relates to the maritime and seafood industries. The organization has dedicated itself to serving the educational, historical and environmental communities within the Chesapeake Bay watershed by providing a broad range of historical and experiential learning activities through quality research and culturally diverse programs to inform and inspire all people. Through the focused and coordinated efforts of museums, oral history and folklore programs, state and local historical societies, college archives and libraries, and concerned individuals the African American contribution to Bay culture can be preserved and shared with future generations. For an example, in Philadelphia the BOC collaborated with the African American Museum and Penn’s Landing on the release of the book, Black Hands and White Sails, written by Patricia and Frederick McKissack. We served on a panel discussing the impact of African Americans in the maritime and related industries.
The BOC serves more than 10,000 people. Along with our partners and host organizations. we generally have sign in sheets to help document our attendance at events. As an example we worked with the Maryland Humanities Council’s Scholars Program and we presented sixteen “Living History Performances” portraying Charles Ball. Mr. Ball was born a slave in Calvert County and fought alongside Commodore Joshua Perry during the War of 1812. All of the venues we performed at were required to submit attendance records and audience evaluation sheets. Some of the locations included the College of Southern Maryland, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, the Fells Point Alliance, Union United Methodist Church in St. Michaels, the Pascal Senior Center in Glen Burnie, the Calvert Library in Prince Frederick.
When we visit schools, colleges and universities for lectures and presentations, we receive students counts from the program coordinators and the same is true with our other programs and projects at senior centers, environmental camps and workshops and historical and cultural venues.
Our highly sought out programs are delivered throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. For instance, we are partnering with the Maryland Office of Tourism providing heritage tourism training at three different venues around the state: The Masonsville Cove Environmental Center located in Baltimore’s Outer Harbor, The Chesapeake Environmental Center on the Eastern Shore in Grasonville, the Calvert Marine Museum in the Solomon’s Island in southern Maryland. The Tourism Office share their attendance data with us for our records.