Several speakers at the 11th Annual St. Mary’s County Juneteenth celebration predicted the event was destined to become one of the county’s largest festivals. Judging from the crowd that packed Freedom Park and the adjacent areas around the Three Notch Theatre in Lexington Park on Saturday, the event is well on its way to becoming just that.
Juneteenth Chairman Mike Brown looked out over the audience at the opening ceremony and observed. “What a family friendly event this is!” Juneteenth is sponsored by the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions (UCAC).”
One the local Juneteenth celebration and UCAC founders, Elmer Brown was given a special recognition this year. Freedom Park, one of UCAC’s early accomplishments, was dedicated in Brown’s honor and a sign to that effect was unveiled on Route 235 across from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
Del. John Bohanan. who introduced Brown, called him “one of the extraordinary citizens of St. Mary’s County.”
Mike Brown, in a letter to the county commissioners asking for support for the honor, wrote: “Mr. Brown and UCAC realized the dream of an African-American monument at its dedication on July 29, 2000 in Freedom Park in Lexington Park. The monument is constructed of rough stone in a pyramid shape, because said, Mr. Brown, ‘The stones and the shape of the monument represent the difficult struggle of blacks climbing the rough side of the mountain to get to the other side’.”
Elmer Brown’s contributions to the community were life-long. In the letter to the commissioners, it was stated: “One of Elmer Brown’s greatest gifts is his insight into the motivation of a community of people. He recognized that how the people of a community perceive themselves is influenced and molded by their surroundings. Evidence of this awareness began when as a youth he’d organize his neighborhood friends to pick up litter on the street where they lived.”
Brown worked for the St. Mary’s County Housing Authority from 1974 to 1984. He noticed that the young people in Tubman-Douglas Estates (off Chancellor’s Run Road) had nothing to do to keep them occupied. He established the Sail-to-Life program in which, with the assistance of St. Mary’s College, the children were taught water safety and how to swim and sail.
While at Tubman-Douglass Estates he led community groups on general house maintenance skills.
As a board member of the Community Development Corporation Brown got the young men involved i