Great Turn-Out for Memory Project at Community Forklift Event

memory project

Memory Project co-Director Matthew White and his son Everett show-off their big posters at Community Forklift. Photo by Talaya Grimes of the Creative Edge Collaborative Studios.

We had a table and ran a workshop at Community Forklift‘s Event last Saturday in Edmonston.   Joined by Joe Hourcle from the Upper Marlboro Historical Committee, we identified all kinds of folks with home videos and photographs:  even the staff at Community Forklift were committing to bring in their media, or their parents and grandparents media.   Our workshop was well attended and had high marks for its entertainment value as we projected many of the artifacts that have been uncovered to date.   Community Forklift, a wonderful partner, will serve as a drop-off stations for those who want to contribute to the project.

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Meet Mya Marie Harrison of Greenbelt


Mya (born on October 10, 1979 and raised in Greenbelt as Mya Marie Harrison) was named in honor of poet Maya Angelou, was influenced by Stevie Wonder, Minnie Ripperton, Madonna, and Fred Astaire, has won just about every music award worth winning: a Grammy in 2012, two MTV moon men awards (including the prestigious MTV Video of the Year award), a Screen Actor Guild Award, Billboard’s Top 100 Artists of the 2000s, and  a second place finish in Dancing With the Stars.  

She has a heart as big as her voice:  founder and co-founder of several  important nonprofit groups, spokesperson for  Secret to Self Esteem, Stop Breast Cancer, Haitian Disaster Relief, Global AIDS education, and homeless LGBT youth.

mya harrison cheerleader in Roosevelt Year Book 1995At Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, she was a cheerleader on the Pom Pom Squad, and she graduated in 1995 at 16 years old (!), after which she started taking classes at the University of Maryland in College Park. But fame would soon call and take her away from the county.

In short, Mya has done the county proud, and is a living testament to our county’s youth that anything really is possible, even life as a global music celebrity icon (and did we say she writes or co-writes almost all of her own music?)

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Prince George’s Claims 3 of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time

Roy Buchanan, of Mount Rainer, is No. 57.  John Fahey of Takoma Park is No. 78.  And Link Wray of Accokeek, is No. 45.  Each of them are part of an exclusive club, according to Rolling Stone Magazine:  the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.  Is there any other county in the world with such a wealth of top guitarists.  Of All Time!

Well, let’s first check out Roy Buchanan, who lived in his mother-in-law’s house in Mount Rainer during the day and jammed for years at Bladensburg’s Crossroads bar.  He was “discovered” in 1971 after a Washington Post profile drew attention to his special gifts:  here he is live performing The Messiah Will Come Again:

And then there is Link Wray, a Shaunee guitarist who set up a recording studio with his brother at their farm in Accokeek.   His song Rumble was an enormous influence on  guitarists like Jimmy Page:

Finally, the great John Fahey, who lived in the part of Takoma Park that was once Prince George’s county, who named his record label, Takoma, after his town, and who, in 1959,  recorded the very first Takoma record at St. Michaels and All Angels Church in Adelphi, MD and that material would become the very first Takoma record, Blind Joe Death.   Here he is in 1981 performing Poor Boy Long Ways from Home:




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Meet Turkey Tayac of Accokeek

turkey212Turkey Tayac, born as Philip Sheridan Proctor, the leader of the Piscataway Indian Nation of Prince George’s County, and an inspiration to Native Americans throughout America, was instrumental in re-claiming the continuing legacy and culture of the Piscataway in Maryland.  The first European to note the activities of the Piscataway was John Smith who, in 1608, mapped this populous and thriving tribe in what is now known as Prince George’s County.   Thought until the 1960s to have migrated outside of Maryland, Turkey Tayac established a now-widely-recognized validation of “self-identification,” which revealed a significant living population of Piscataways in the county that dated back as far as 1300 AD.  He was especially concerned with the protection of an archeological site in Accoceek that is now a National Historic Landmark, part of the Piscataway National Park. Although he died of leukemia in 1978 and didn’t live to see the Piscataway recognized as a living tribe, his descendants continued the effort and were ultimately rewarded with recognition by the state of Maryland in 2012.

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Save the Date! October 26: Community Forklift to Showcase the Memory Project

2014 Comm Forklift color ad 5W x 8H

We’ll be holding a workshop on October 26th at Community Forklift, a nonprofit reuse center in Edmonston.   Join us there as we project some of our most interesting home movies and photographs found to date.  We’ll also be providing tips on the preservation, transfer, and digitization of your personal media.   And Community Forklift will be on hand to demonstrate how photographs can be applied to tiles and other structural media.

We’re expecting around 1500 people to participate in the event.   Maybe you’ll be one of them?ThankstoCFwithlogo


4671 Tanglewood Drive Edmonston, MD 20781


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Cheerleaders and Cap Center live on in home movies (1976)

This should take you back:  Cheerleaders from the Queen Anne School in Upper Marlboro competing with great energy and gusto at the Capital Center (“Cap Center”) in Largo.  This was uploaded to YouTube as one of Mary Jane Bostian family’s Super 8 movies.

Both the school and the Cap Center are now gone.  The private co-educational school, founded in 1964 by Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church, was closed in 2011, a victim of the difficult economy and declining enrollment.  The building has been transformed into a Charter School, run by Imagine Foundations Public Charter School.  The Cap Center, which held nearly 20,000 people and was home to the Washington Bullets, was demolished in 2002.

But they both live on in memory, thanks to the efforts of Mary Jane Bostian.

Queen Anne School Cheerleading at Capitol Center (Largo: March 17, 1976)

 Queen Anne School Cheerleading at Capitol Center (Largo, 1977)

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Restored: Ridgeley Rosenwald School House

AR-709019916-1Julius Rosenwald, a wealthy businessman and the president of Sears, established The Rosenwald Fund in 1917 with Booker T. Washington.  This fund, which held $70 million dollars, was used primarily to fund construction of nearly 5000 schools for African American students throughout the south.  Prince George’s County had 27 Rosenwald schools.

The Ridgely Rosenwald School was built in 1927 and was co-financed with matching funds from the local community. A segregated school with three classrooms, it was active until the 1950s.   After a vigorous campaign to restore the property, the Ridgely Rosenwald Schoolhouse reopened as a museum in 2011.  It is one nine Rosenwald schools that are still standing in our County.

Mattie Ridgely and her students at the Ridgely Rosenbaum School

Mattie Ridgely and her students at the Ridgely Rosenbaum School


Ridgeley Rosenbaum School classroom, as restored in its transformation to a museum.






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Lost: The Warington Tobacco Barn

In 1988, the Maryland Historical Trust considered the old Warington Tobacco Barn as: “probably the best surviving example in Prince George’s County of a 19th century tobacco barn.” Under state protection as an historical landmark until it was destroyed during a storm in 2008, the barn has a notable history.

The barn was built between 1840-1850 by Marshall Waring as a component of his vast and rich tobacco plantation, and was one of many such tobacco barns that populated Prince George’s county well into the 20th century. It was showcased on the grounds of the Newton White Mansion in Mitchellville until it was destroyed.

The photographs below were commissioned by the Historic American Buildings Survey, a federal organization of photographers, historians, and architects that identifies and memorializes significant works of America’s architectural heritage.  In 1983, photographer  Jack E Boucher and historian Catherine C Lavoie teamed up to create a permanent record of the Warington Tobacco Barn.  These are very large format photographs, which can be enlarged to an area of 5000 x 3600.

WEST_(END)_ELEVATION,_WITHOUT_SCALE_-wikipedia commons _Warington_Tobacco_Barn,_3006_Enterprise_Road,_Mitchellville,_Prince_George's_County,_MD_HABS_MD,17-MITV,2-2.tif










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In 1939, The Country Was Counting on Greenbelt

At the New York World’s Fair of 1939, a film about Greenbelt was screened for the first time as a study of a new kind of city.   Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” the movie contrasts the evils of industrialized America vs. the idyllic conditions of small-town America, as symbolized by the newly planned city, Greenbelt.


Produced by The Regional Planning Association of America, with funding from the Carnegie Foundation, “The City” leveraged much of the talent that was employed by FDR for his popular government films of the 1930s:  Pare Lorenz, Lewis Mumford, Aaron Copeland.  Promoting a utopian vision that was at the heart of Greenbelt’s establishment in 1937 (built from scratch on old tobacco farmland), this amazing document put Prince George’s County at the center of American thought and vision.

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Meet Zina Garrison of Hyattsville

premium_article_portraitZina Garrison, of Hyattsville, is a world-renouned tennis celebrity and Olympic gold medalist (1988).  Serving as honorary chairman of the ATA National Championships in 2002, held at the Prince George’s Tennis and Education Foundation, she brought national attention to the roots of an organization that was founded in 1917 as a  forum for African-American tennis talent.  Garrison’s career including the winning of a Gold Medal at the 1988 Olympic Games, a runner-up at Wimbledon, and three time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion.   Her contests with rival Marina Navratilova are legendary; she finally upset her in the 1988 quarter finals of the US Open. She shares her house with emerging tennis star Taylor Townsend, who are often seen training at the College Park facilities.

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