The site of a former Maryland plantation field is on route to become an 85-store outlet mall, and local black residents of the area are speaking out against it.
Residents of the Prince George County community in Maryland are displeased with the thought of a renowned historic cite of black resistance to slavery being stripped of its connection to Black history and to the Civil War for “economic development opportunity”.
Salubria, the name of an ex-plantation cite in Maryland, is where a 14-year-old slave girl name Judith poisoned her master’s children, and was later sentenced to death. The event took place in 1834, and she is believed to be influenced by Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in South Hampton, Va. in 1831. The young insurgent is listed in the Maryland Archive as the first Maryland woman who was reported to have resisted slavery, and may be the youngest woman ever to be executed in the United States.
It is yet another “tragic event in the story of Salubria,” according to some of the local residents. Bonnie Bick, organizer of the Reinvest in the Heart of Oxon Hill, Maryland, says that the former plantation cite is eligible to be registered as an historical marker but instead, the cite where many Black residents gain pride from is being promoted as a place for the community to shop.
“We [the community] were reviewing archeological information that said Salubria was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.The vote was taken by the Historic Preservation Commission to take away, not to nominate it for the national register, but to take away its entire historic designation,” said Bick.
“What really gets me is that Milt Peterson—the developer—purchased [the] National Harbor property for $10.3 million, and he’s already gotten $500 million subsidy for his entrances and exits from the taxpayer. So, it just seems so wrong for them to take away the Black history, and subsidize it with taxpayer money. It would have a tremendously negative impact on a Black neighborhood,” Bick said.
The historic landmark is now designated to become commercial development property after an early January vote by the Prince George’s County Historic Preservation Commission. County Park and Planning Staff concluded that the best way for the site to be preserved is through archaeological removal since the site has “few remaining physical structures that can be restored or preserved.”
“I’m an African-American woman, and I’m sick of my history being obliterated. Nothing that matters to African Americans has been preserved,” said Joyce Hawkins, a 69-year-old Tantallon, Maryland resident.
Commissioner Robert H. Schnabel said it was “unfortunate” that the structures on the land had not been maintained properly, but what seems to be more unfortunate is the fact that an historic landmark that is deeply rooted in Black Americans’ perseverance through slavery will be ripped to shreds for the purpose of what the Prince George’s County Historic Preservation Commission sees as an opportunity for lucrative expansion.