10 Thriving Black Towns You Didn’t Learn About in History Class

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Early settlers of North Brentwood, Maryland. Photo courtesy of Prince Georges African-American Museum and Cultural Center at North Brentwood.
Early settlers of North Brentwood, Maryland. (Photo: Prince George’s African-American Museum and Cultural Center at North Brentwood)

A Town of Firsts: North Brentwood, Maryland — Incorporated in 1924, North Brentwood was Prince George’s County’s first African-American municipality. It was developed from farmland owned by Wallace A. Bartlett, a white commander of the 19th infantry of the U.S. Colored Troops in Brazos and Brownsville, Texas during the Civil War. He created the Holladay Land and Improvement Division in 1887 and sold pieces of land in the floodplains to his fellow soldiers, former enslaved Africans, and Black families. North Brentwood became a politically and economically sufficient town, boasting its own government, businesses and religious institutions. It was home to 800 people by 1930, according to the North Brentwood Directory. The city was occasionally flooded after heavy rains, but a levee was finally built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s. It still exists today with a population of 517, according to a 2010 census.

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