The Brightside: Untold Stories: Chronicling Our Delmarva History
BERLIN, Md. – One Maryland man, historian, and artist is making it his life’s mission to tell part of the state’s history. He’s doing this through historical photographs, illustrating the untold stories chronicling our Delmarva history. “There are some people that say Oh the past is the past, forget it. But for me, I look to the past so I can gauge how I can live better for the future,” says Patrick Henry.
Part of the past local artist and historian Henry is referring to is Worcester County’s past, specifically the African American experience. “I just feel this sense of real responsibility to document, I scan the photographs, I clean them up, I interview people to be certain about accuracy.
Originally from West Ocean City, Henry has seen the growth of Delmarva with his own eyes. With his roots running deep on the shore, he developed a passion for uncovering the full story of his community. “A lot of people here on the lower Eastern shore have to be trustful of what will be done with these prized possessions.” Henry adds, “There’s a lot that needs to be done but there is such an evolution going on in our American fabric that we are moving forward.”
The uprising of the black lives matter movement after the death of George Floyd, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re told gave Henry the drive to dive deep into Worcester County history, and put it on display for everyone to experience, learn, and grow. “It was during that period of time that this collection became even more important because, a lot of my friends who happen to be white came up to me and said Pat, I had no idea, and I said why would you?” Henry adds, “You won’t find this type of thing in your school history book. This collection will reveal some of those dynamics that help us to get to this point that makes us able to move forward and up and over some of the dynamics we had to go through.”
Through researching and interviewing, Henry is slowly but surely uncovering untold stories that are right in residents’ back-yard. Such as sharing the story of a local family doctor, “He’s still a legend and he’s been gone now for almost 60 years and what he meant to our community.”
Or the untold story of the local Phillips Canning factory which was one of the area’s economic drivers in the 1950s and 60s. Beyond that, Henry is giving people a different perspective of the county’s history. “This collection of all these different people has enabled me to see as a fisherman, and farmers from back in those days, all the cultures were interdependent.”
All of this time and energy spent, Henry tells 47 ABC, is in the hopes the community will take this lesson as a way to grow together for a better future. “If you don’t grow and learn, you’ll keep going around that path over and over where in life you want to continue to circle upward and upward.”
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