HURLOCK — Hurlock United Methodist Church, in partnership with Dr. Carl Barham, hosted an African American Trailblazer Celebration on Saturday, Nov. 16. Individuals from the northern area of Dorchester County were honored.
The program highlighted the heritage and legacy of “homegrown” northern Dorchester County African Americans.
Citation and awards were presented by State Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, and Hurlock Mayor Michael Henry.
With well-deserved respect Marion Spry, born Oct. 19, 1917, was the guest of honor.
At 102 years old, Spry is the oldest African American female from Dorchester County. She is a 1934 graduate of the Frederick Douglass St. Clair High School in Cambridge. At an early age, Mrs. Spry joined Mt. Zion Methodist Church in East New Market, currently known as Faith Community United Methodist Church.
Following her marriage to Weldon Spry, she joined Zorah United Methodist Church in Petersburg. For more years than she can recall, Spry has been a longstanding saint of Hurlock United Methodist Church.
She always said, “If you’re a member of your church, you’re supposed to love it and support it.”
“A woman of her word, she is one of the most generous and faithful members of Hurlock United Methodist Church,” stated a church press release. “At 102 years old, Mrs. Spry is a breath of fresh air to all generations, sharing gifts of laughter, humor, wisdom, love of family, church and community.”
The program also featured a revisitation of the historical era of segregation in the Dorchester County Public Schools. There was an open, frank and emotional reflection on challenges and complications endured by young African American students who integrated Hurlock Elementary School and North Dorchester High School.
Each person described experiences related to the grim, dark side of racism in the early 1960s. Manifestations of family support, courage, determination and common sense helped the Trailblazers navigate their journeys.
Whereas Trailblazers Iva Camper, Department of Defense retiree, and Larry Pinkett, a retiree from the Washington, D.C., government, integrated North Dorchester High School in 1964, college educator Patricia Sampson, social worker Darlene Sampson, educator Denise Aldridge, registered nurse Linda Sampson and pharmacist Charlene Sampson integrated Hurlock Elementary School.
These seven trailblazers embraced the sacrifice of greater good for a fair and equal education for all.
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