Desegregating Greenbelt: Family Histories of the Community's First Black Residents is a Black History Month program offered by the Greenbelt Museum in conjunction with the Greenbelt Black History and Culture Committee. Greenbelt began as a strictly segregated community. Despite the fact that it was built by both Black and white relief workers, only white families would be accepted as residents. The community would remain segregated for several decades after its founding in 1937.
In this interview between Pastor Angie Williams and Emmett Jordan, Mayor Pro Tem of Greenbelt, hear how Pastor Williams and her husband, Rivers, learned about Greenbelt and how they came to buy into the Greenbelt Homes Incorporated co-op in 1966 - essentially beginning the desegregation of the community. Hear also about their experiences living in Greenbelt during that time period. As she says, there were many elements of Greenbelt that they loved and they made lifelong friends here. At one point in the interview, however, Pastor Williams refers to an editorial that she wrote in response to a fellow citizens blatant racism that was published in the Greenbelt News Review. To read it in the newspaper's archives, click here. See the Greenbelt Citizens for Fair Housing Committee's first ad in the News Review here. Also see an ad that Rivers Williams and other activists paid for in 1967 that makes a statement against the discrimination taking place in the community's apartment buildings.
Many thanks to Angie Williams, Emmett Jordan, and the Greenbelt Black History and Culture Committee chaired by Dr. Lois Rosado and Leeann Irwin.
This interview is part of the Museum's ongoing work to raise awareness about Greenbelt's segregated past, to record and share the experiences of BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) in Greenbelt, and to offer a forum where respectful discussions about race, diversity, justice, and equity can take place.
As a lasting legacy of the 75th Anniversary of the City of Greenbelt, and in an effort to answer some of the many questions we have about segregation and integration here, the Greenbelt Museum established an ongoing Archive of the African American Experience in Greenbelt in 2012. We need your help to make it successful! If you would like to share information, photographs, memories, or oral histories, please contact the Museum by calling 301-507-6582 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.