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Architectural Students attending a public meeting School of Architecture & Planning

Morgan Architectural Students Attend MCAAHC Public Meeting for Firsthand Learning Experience

by Morgan State U
April 17, 2024

Two Classes Representing the School of Architecture and Planning Participated in What Is Believed to Be the Largest Attendance for a Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture Public Meeting

Taking a pause from their usual classroom instruction, two classes from Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) left campus to participate in the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture’s (MCAAHC’s) April public meeting. The faculty and students from the History of the Built Environment (ARCH 206) and Design and Human Behavior (ARCH 305) courses traveled to Chestertown, Maryland to learn firsthand about how the Commission invests its $5 million annual fund to preserve cultural African American sites throughout the state, and to hear from special guest speakers: actor and writer Ashleigh Hairston and Mariah Davis, an environmental justice officer for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The sizable Morgan contingent contributed to what is believed to be the largest attendance ever for an MCAAHC public meeting.

Students outside Bethel AME Church The meeting, which took place at the Bethel AME Church in Chestertown, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, was hosted by the Commission’s youngest commissioner, Jaelon T. Moaney, and chaired by Morgan’s own Edwin T. Johnson, Ph.D., University historian and special assistant to the provost. In 2023, Dr. Johnson was appointed as chair, after his initial appointment to MCAAHC in 2016.

Accompanied by SA+P professors, the students attending the meeting were empowered by experience. Commissioners Janice Curtis Greene and Elinor Thompson presented their findings on the Ancestral Remains Committee, a visionary collaboration between the Maryland Historic Trust and MCAAHC that is working to identify descendant communities from five parts of the state. The two special guests in attendance also made presentations. Ashleigh Hairston spoke about her role as a Black creative, while Mariah Davis discussed her trailblazing role in creating equity throughout the state and ensuring rights to a clean environment for everyone, regardless of economic status.

students sitting inside of a busThe words the students used to describe the experience ranged from “enlightening and enjoyable,” to “introspective” and “educational.” The field trip/tour was made possible through the efforts of SA+P professors Taylor Means, Barbara Paca, Ph.D., Adan Jose Ramos and Samia Rab Kirchner, Ph.D., and doctoral teaching fellows Soroush Piri and Ebram Victoria.

The students closed out their trip to the Eastern Shore with a visit to the award-winning Phat Daddy’s restaurant, where they dined on some of the establishment’s signature dishes. 

The Commission on African American History and Culture serves as the statewide clearinghouse for preserving evidence of and documenting the African American experience in Maryland. It specializes in research assistance and collection of historical materials — art objects, memorabilia, manuscripts, photographs and other articles of significance to African American history and culture. For the community at large and the educational systems and institutions within the State, the Commission provides exhibits, programs and resource materials. At one time in its history, the Commission was assigned to Morgan State College by executive order. In 2022, it was established as an independent agency within Maryland’s Executive Branch.