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MoCo students share concerns with County Council at Youth Summit

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SILVER SPRING — In a room full of Montgomery middle-school and high-school students, Hailey Gordon, 15, a sophomore at Watkins Mill High School, said she is frustrated with her teachers. 

“It just frustrates me a lot because what I want to do, people make it seem like it’s not really possible,” said Gordon. “I just want to make art and sell it to people, but I’m always like, told that’s it kind of like you’re going to want another plan because that’s probably not going to work [well] for you or not going to work at all,” Gordon said when asked what makes her frustrated in school.

Montgomery County Department of Recreation hosted its fifth annual Youth Summit at the Silver Spring Civic Center for middle- and high-school students to share their experiences, complaints, and concerns with County Council members and other local officials during a town hall-style meeting. One by one, students from different schools, ages, and backgrounds discussed what was troubling them. Issues ranging from bullying and underqualified teachers to cafeteria options were all discussed by the students.

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Slavery in Montgomery County

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New archaeological dig focuses on former slave and will determine the future of Josiah Henson Park museum

This house on Old Georgetown Road is being restored to the way it looked during the 1800s.  PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKThis house on Old Georgetown Road is being restored to the way it looked during the 1800s. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  Just a few yards off busy Old Georgetown Road in North Bethesda, archaeologists with the County Department of Parks are digging up pottery shards, buttons, thimbles, nails, and animal bones that had been used for various chores such as cooking and sewing as well as toys, all dating back to 18th and 19th centuries.

Isaac Riley owned 275 acres there. He also owned 24 slaves, including Josiah Henson, whose later journal writings became the basis for the character Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

As a young boy, Henson watched his father beaten for trying to stop his wife’s rape by the owner of a plantation, where the family was enslaved in Charles County.

Soon after that, Riley purchased Henson and kept him on the North Bethesda property as a slave until 1830. He later became the overseer for Riley and often took the wheat, barley, and corn crops grown on the property to Georgetown to sell.

While living in Maryland, Henson frequented a nearby church that was for white people only. He stood outside and listened as the preacher led the congregation in prayer and song. He developed a love for Christianity and later became a reverend.  

For several years, he strove to buy his freedom, but Riley “lies to him, tricks him,” said Cassandra Michaud, senior archaeologist for the Parks Department.

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