Racial Segregation: The link between PAX Naval Air Station and today’s racial segregation landscape in St. Mary’s County

Authors: Evelyn Hernandez*, St. Mary's College of Maryland
Topics: Landscape
Keywords: eminent domain, white privilege, environmental racism, Black geographies
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Cedar Point, a neighborhood within St. Mary’s County, Maryland, is an area steeped in history, including the history of the colonizers who settled on the land, of the military who chose it as a base, and most importantly, of the inequality that has plagued the Black community for generations. The history of Cedar Point goes back all the way to 1637 when English colonizers founded St. Mary’s County, and thrived off of tobacco farming until the Naval Bureau of Aeronautics came upon the area in 1938. Days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bureau decided to seize Cedar Point through eminent domain, due to its ideal isolated and rural location, in order to centralize the United States (US) Naval flight testing facilities. Due to wartime urgency, the Black and white community members in and surrounding Cedar Point were given only 30 days to leave their homes. Since then, the Naval base has not only brought this county money but continuous racial inequalities. I draw on historical analysis, artifacts, oral histories, and evaluating families to highlight the inequality between the Black and white community since the late 1930s to the present day. Some major historical racial inequalities included the federal housing crisis, the landscape development, and the amending zoning laws. I used my methods to demonstrate how there is a connection with the Patuxent River Naval Air Station and the repressed racial segregation within St. Marys County in the present day.

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