Sumner Hall’s permanent collection includes a display of artifacts recovered when the building was restored and memorabilia from family members of the founders and active members in various organizations that met in the building over the years. It also contains a special exhibit: The History of Emancipation in Kent County, Maryland.
Emancipation – the goal of every African American from the moment he or she set foot on American soil as a slave. This exhibit at Sumner Hall traces their efforts to emancipate themselves by running away, purchasing each other, and receiving the “gift” of freedom from their owners until the United States federal government ended slavery. The struggle for full equality as Americans continued to be contested by supporters of slavery, then by supporters of segregation and currently by those who do not accept equal rights for all human beings. Kent County gave birth to one of the most important abolitionists, Henry Highland Garnet, but it also nurtured a segregated society for decades – the remnant of which is still evident today.
This exhibit was designed and written by Jeanette Sherbondy. It was sponsored by the Historical Society of Kent County, the Kent County Arts Council and G.A.R. Post #25, Inc. in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Maryland’s Emancipation in 1864.
This history is not complete; nor has the struggle for equality ended. Please contact Jeanette Sherbondy in care of Sumner Hall or the Historical Society of Kent County if you wish to include your family’s or community’s history!