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African American History: Communities and Schools

Montgomery County’s African American communities have a rich history extending back to their founding by emancipated, formerly enslaved people dating back to, and sometimes preceding, the end of the Civil War. More than 80 communities were established in Montgomery County during the late-19th and early 20th century, and many are still active and vibrant communities yet today.

Map of Montgomery County showing approximately 80 historically Black communities that were formed c.1870-1910. (To see a larger, scalable image of this map, click on the “Historic African-American Communities” link below.)

Explore the history of Montgomery County’s historically Black communities ands schools below, with research provided by historians Sharyn Duffin and Ralph Buglass, as well as links to other projects around the county dedicated to providing visibility and education exploring Montgomery County’s diverse past.

The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Lodge 6430 of Sandy Spring, marching in a parade, c. 1915 (photo by Lewis Reed)

Montgomery County, Maryland’s Historic African American Communities
compiled by Ralph Buglass, January 2023

Photograph-rich vignettes of more than 75 communities, including churches, schools, community halls, recreation, founding families, and modern-day events. Also contains a list of featured communities and a map.

Lincoln High School graduating class, c.1939

The Segregated Black Schools of Montgomery County
compiled by Ralph Buglass and Sharyn Duffin, 2021

This compilation seeks to document all of the mostly-forgotten segregated Black schools in Montgomery County– but hopefully conveys much more. Reading between the lines, an important story emerges: one of community commitment and racial pride, struggling but dedicated teachers, and perseverance, resilience, and accomplishment in the face of a white-supremacist system.
Includes overview document, source explanations, multiple maps, a timeline, national context sidebars, and “snapshot descriptions” of 45 Black schools.

Other resources on Black communities and schools in Montgomery County:

Montgomery County’s Historic African American Places
GIS interactive Story Map describing Montgomery County’s parks, trails, museums, and designated historic sites related to African American history.
(provided by Montgomery Planning)

Historic African American Communities
Resource hub for multiple projects documenting Montgomery County’s African American heritage communities. (presented by Heritage Montgomery)

Lincoln Park History Project
Explore more work by historian Sharyn Duffin, documenting the history of one of Rockville’s long-established Black communities.
(presented by Montgomery County Public Libraries)