Nonprofit Spotlight

Nonprofit Spotlight



The Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is “to document, increase understanding of, and foster African American contributions to the history and development of St. Mary’s County while advocating for improvements in health, education, and community building for all citizens of St. Mary’s County.”


The nonprofit was formed in 1994 and incorporated a year later after Elmer Brown noticed a lack of recognition of the Black community’s contributions to St. Mary’s County’s history. He led community members in regular meetings, with the goal of building a monument dedicated to African Americans. After the group proposed the idea to the St. Mary’s Board of County Commissioners, the commissioners allowed the African American Monument to be built in Elmer Brown Freedom Park in 2000.




The nonprofit also created an oral history committee in 1996 to record the oral histories of the county’s oldest Black residents. The nonprofit has been conducting historical interviews since then, with the goal of emphasizing the history and culture of African Americans in the county. The oral histories are available in online collections at the College of Southern Maryland and St. Mary’s College of Maryland. The nonprofit also documents many African American historic sites, monuments, and historic schools on its website. The organization is continually looking for more information from the public about its documented locations.


Over the years, the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions has accomplished many other notable things. The organization has created a traveling exhibit about segregated education and established the U.S. Colored Troops Monument in John G. Lancaster Park. The nonprofit has also helped preserve and interpret the Historic Drayden African American School House for visitors. Additionally, the organization created the book “In Relentless Pursuit of an Education” and a documentary film. The book contains stories of African American education during 100 years of segregation, and the film describes the desegregation of Great Mills High School. In 2022, the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions was also honored during the 75th anniversary of the St. Mary’s Branch of the NAACP. The nonprofit and its former president, Michael Brown, were recognized for “Outstanding Community Service” at the event.




The nonprofit hosts an annual Juneteenth Celebration, with the first event being held in 2004. Juneteenth commemorates the day that slavery ended in Texas. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and Union Army troops reached Galveston, Texas. There, the general announced that the Civil War was over and all slaves were free. This was important since, despite President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation having occurred in 1863, that measure had not yet freed slaves in Texas. During the evening of the announcement, Galveston residents celebrated the news by singing, dancing, and eating. Over the years, the celebration spread to cities throughout the United States, and Juneteenth is now recognized as a federal holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. The nonprofit’s Juneteenth Celebration introduces visitors to displays of art, music, education, health, and faith-based initiatives found in St. Mary’s County. The event also encourages awareness about artists and artistry in the local community. This year’s Juneteenth Celebration will be held on Saturday, June 17, from noon to 6:30 p.m. at John G. Lancaster Park.




The Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions uses membership dues, donations, Juneteenth sponsorships, and grants to make capital improvements and provide educational opportunities that increase [an] understanding of and foster African American contributions to history. The nonprofit achieves this goal with the help of an active supporter community and the generosity of members.


For more information, visit the organization’s website or contact the nonprofit. The Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions also has a Facebook page.


The material used in this spotlight article comes from the nonprofit organization’s website and an employee of the nonprofit.


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