A Safe Place for Friendly Competition and Open Discussion for Social Change
From 1909 to 1951, in the days of an unwritten "Jim Crow" segregation policy, the Parks Commission of Baltimore maintained "separate but equal" facilities. Druid Hill became the sole park city-wide where the African-American community felt welcome in a recreation complex which included a picnic grove, playground, swimming pool and five tennis courts.
In 1948, the Young Progressive of Maryland and the Baltimore Tennis Club, held an inegreated match on the "white" Conservatory courts in Druid Hill Park. As 500 people looked on, the police arrived and ordered the march halted. When the players sat down in protest, they were arrested. The court case argued that the protesters were challenging the constitutionality of separate facilities based on race. The Appeals court upheld the conviction and the Supreme Court then refused to hear the case. But this challenge was an important chapter in the stormy end of segregation in this country.
The program of segregated facilities in Baltimore was continued as late as 1950, when improvements to the Number Two Pool at Druid Hill were financed. But by 1955, the Parks Commission announced a new policy of integration of all City facilities and in June, 1956, integrated pools were opened to the public.
In this place, we honor the many park users who vividly recall their personal experiences durign the years of segregation. Please respect this memorial to the African-American community.
The Druid Hill Park courts were home to legions of local tennis greats. Top men's singles players included Warren Weaver, John Woods, Irvington Williams, and Douglas "Jocko" Henderson. A few of the outstanding women players were Evelyn Scott, Nellie Brisco, and Evelyn Freeman, who was women's singles champion of 1949 and 1950, and rates by the Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper as one of the top ten woman players in the country.
The pool, grove and tennis areas was designed as a memorial landscape to honor the memory of segregation and the struggle to overcome it. Working with project landscape architects and architects, African-American artist Joyce J. Scott designed the papvign pattern of the walkway through the grove and around the former pool. The pattern of meandering coiled and woven rope is based upon traditional African motifs symbolizing tranquility, safety and connections to community. The wave pattern on the roof of the men's changing building symbolizes water. The columns at the entry plaza mark the corners of the field house. The pool scupper, ladders and chair framework remain as elements of pool use.