Water’s Edge: Black Watermen of the Chesapeake
The unique relationship between African Americans and the Chesapeake Bay contains an abundance of untold stories, tales revealed in a new documentary, Water’s Edge: Black Watermen of the Chesapeake.
Mid-nineteenth century Maryland offered pseudo-freedom to African Americans who lived and worked on the water. Between 1790 and 1860, the population of free Blacks grew tremendously; some 58% of the Black population was free. This was the largest population of free African Americans in the entire United States, and watermen were central to the success of these communities. In Maryland, the tradition of seafood fed millions and offered an opportunity for innovation that extended to both the free and enslaved.
Water’s Edge: Black Watermen of the Chesapeake chronicles unsung Marylanders that revolutionized an industry, dreamed beyond their circumstance and are still keeping this tradition alive today. Join Maryland Public Television as we chronicle stories of bravery and resilience, illuminating an industry packed with African American pioneers. Meet George H. Brown, an ambitious steamboat captain that revolutionized recreation for Black Marylanders in the early twentieth century, Downes and Albert Curtis, renowned sailmakers on Tilghman Street in Chestertown and innovators like the Turner Family of Bellevue and present-day captains who have survived by shifting their businesses from commercial fishing to chartering fishing parties. Black Watermen and the Bay celebrates the resilience, culture and beauty created by these extraordinary people.