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Church removes plaques of slave-owning founders, starts reparations initiative

February 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 26.9%. 2 min read.

A west Baltimore church has entered into a journey to understand its past and atone for the men and women their founding rectors and families enslaved.

"I think about the resilience of my folks, how they survived with the work and the labor," said the Rev. Natalie Conway, deacon of Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill. Conway recounted finding out that her great-great-grandmother, Harriett Cromwell, was enslaved at the Hampton National Historic Site, formerly Hampton Plantation in Towson off Dulaney Valley Road. "They called her Hattie, and when she was manumitted in 1828, she had a 1-year-old son with her who was able to go with her.

That led to an "a-ha" moment. "I had been sitting in the back of the church on one of the pews that if I looked up I could see the plaques, and the plaques were dedicated to Charles Ridgely Howard, and I was like, 'Oh, my goodness,'" Conway said. "Charles Ridgely Howard was the founding rector of Memorial.

They lived here at Hampton plantation," said the Rev. Grey Maggiano, rector at the Memorial Episcopal Church. Sophia Ridgely gave a gift of $5,000 to build the church.

"I think about the resilience of my folks, how they survived with the work and the labor," said the Rev. Natalie Conway, deacon of Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill. Conway recounted finding out that her great-great-grandmother, Harriett Cromwell, was enslaved at the Hampton National Historic Site, formerly Hampton Plantation in Towson off Dulaney Valley Road. "They called her Hattie, and when she was manumitted in 1828, she had a 1-year-old son with her who was able to go with her.

That led to an "a-ha" moment. "I had been sitting in the back of the church on one of the pews that if I looked up I could see the plaques, and the plaques were dedicated to Charles Ridgely Howard, and I was like, 'Oh, my goodness,'" Conway said. "Charles Ridgely Howard was the founding rector of Memorial.

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