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African American Communities in Crisfield, Maryland

As told by Crisfield High School Students
Crisfield, Maryland

Story Narrative:

Students from Crisfield High School interview Miss Pearl about how town has changed for African Americans in the region from when she was a child. This story was produced for Stories: YES by Grant, Leonard, Destiny and Christian in collaboration with Crisfield Heritage Foundation.

Narrator: The culture of Crisfield is often associated with African American communities. And it's also associated with the water. The water is the history of Crisfield. This city was born on the water. The rich history of sea life here caused Crisfield to grow vibrant. Once becoming the seafood capital of the world. But now we've died down. There used to be many things to do around here, but now there's nothing. Now cutting to our interview with Miss Pearl.

Miss Pearl: (0:36) Oh, a whole lot of Crisfield has changed. And I'm going to start first with, you had more involvement of parents in children's behavior. We don't have as much today as it was back when I was growing up. Your parents would tell you, I don't know what my child would do when I'm not there. But I am willing to bet you that they're going to do more good than bad. And if you did good, you got rewarded. If you did bad, you got punished and your parents didn't play with you. Your parents let you know I'm your parent, not your friend. So there's a big change.

Narrator: (1:25) Who has changed in your perspective, now that being.

Miss Pearl: (1:27) Who has changed? Young people have changed. And I don't know if young people have changed as much as... young people have always been the kind that, I'm gonna do, what you allow me to get away with.

Narrator: (1:41) So for better or worse?

Miss Pearl: (1:44) It depends on the young person. If you are a child who recognizes that right is right and wrong is wrong, and it does not change with time, and your value system is to do what is right rather than what makes you feel good, then you're gonna to do what is right. But if you're, if you have been allowed to do that, that your value system is to do only what makes me feel good irregardless of whether it's right, or whether it's wrong, you were only gonna do what makes you feel good, right or wrong. And I see that happening more with young people today, than it happened back in my day.

Narrator: (2:36) What is happening with job opportunities, past and present.

Miss Pearl: (2:42) When I was growing up, there were no jobs for black children. The only jobs that existed in Crisfield was to work in oyster house or to pick crabs. And if you weren't good at either one of those, then didn't make a lot of money. I was not allowed to work in the crab house. I was not allowed to work on the farms. My brothers could work on the farms on weekends, but they could not work on the farms during school time. Because my father's thing was, I'm not raising crib because of farming. And we accepted that. Well, I accepted it. I had my oldest brother who rebelled against it until my mother let him know, I don't deal with peer pressure in my house it's parent pressure. And you haven't learned that yet, then let me teach you.

Narrator: (3:40) What would you say is the overall culture of Crisfield?

Miss Pearl: (3:44) Overall culture of Crisfield?

Narrator: (3:47) Yeah, the . . .

Miss Pearl: (3:52) As much as we like to say in Crisfield, we are a together people. I don't see that we really are.

Narrator: (4:03) So very closed community.

Miss Pearl: (4:06) We are a community in the black community. The closeness does not exist the way it did when I was growing up. We believe in, it takes a village to raise a child.

Asset ID: 2019.05
Themes: Crossroads, small towns, water, economy, community, jobs, schools, African American history
Date recorded: 2019
Length of recording: 4:26 m
Related traveling exhibition: Water/Ways
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Crisfield Heritage Foundation and Crisfield High School, Maryland
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