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Release Date: 1/17/2020
Contact: Brandon Oland, 443.809.5908

Loch Raven Technical Academy students to work with Maryland Lynching Memorial Project

Students will research the life and death of Howard Cooper, a teenager lynched in Towson in 1885

Towson, MD – One hundred and thirty-five years ago, Howard Cooper, a 15-year-old African American boy, was dragged from his cell in the Old Towson Jail and killed by an angry mob in a racial terror lynching on the jail’s front lawn. Now, Grade 8 students at Loch Raven Technical Academy, a middle school located just two miles from the still-standing historic jail building, will work with the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project to further research Cooper’s life and death.

According to Will Schwarz, founder of the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, the hope is that the students will ultimately help write the inscription for a memorial marker to be placed at the site of the lynching.

On Thursday, Jan. 30, from 8:45 – 10 a.m., historian Jennifer Liles will visit the school to present what is known about Cooper’s life and death, a short film about the lynching, and the research she has done regarding Cooper’s family.

Liles will meet with a juvenile justice class, taught by Michelle St. Pierre, magnet coordinator and social studies department chair at Loch Raven Technical, and a former Baltimore County Public Schools Teacher of the Year. The juvenile justice class is part of the school’s law and finance magnet program. Liles will also present to American history students. Beginning this year, all Grade 8 BCPS students will participate in a civic action project. The meeting with Liles will begin the civic action work of Loch Raven Technical students.

“Our juvenile justice students will examine Howard Cooper’s lynching as a case study,” said St. Pierre, “and explore other cases where juveniles were lynched. Our American History students will participate in an activist project after studying slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. Through their project, they will look at the impact of lynching on our nation yesterday and today. They will then look at the actions taken by many activists during the Civil Rights Movement to stop the injustice.”

Liles, who has conducted research for the Baltimore Museum of Industry and the Baltimore Immigration Museum, has pledged to be available throughout the school year to support students as needed in conducting primary source research.

The Maryland Lynching Memorial Project works with the Equal Justice Initiative. Schwarz launched the Maryland project after seeing Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, give a talk about his book “Just Mercy” and hearing him describe the more than 4,000 documented racial terror lynchings that have taken place in the nation.

Schwarz, who says he was moved “not just by the number of lynchings, but the depth of it, the depravity,” could not find anyone else researching and documenting the 41 known racial terror lynchings that took place in Maryland. (The last one was in 1933). He says he launched the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project “to advocate for public acknowledgement of these crimes and to honor and dignify the lives of the victims.”

“It is important,” Schwarz said, “to acknowledge and understand how the legacy of lynching continues to hurt us today – how it can be seen in health disparities, income disparities, the disproportionate number of blacks who have been imprisoned...”

Liles became interested in the Howard Cooper case when she attended a soil gathering that Schwarz organized at the Towson jail. Soil is being gathered from the sites of racial-terror lynchings around the nation, and jars of the soil are on display at the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala.

At the soil gathering, Liles, a mother of three, began wondering about Cooper’s mother and began independent research into his life and the lives of his family members.

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Baltimore County Public Schools
6901 Charles Street
Towson, Maryland 21204
443-809-4554

Report Fraud, Waste, or Abuse

Darryl L. Williams, Ed.D.
Superintendent

E-mail Dr. Williams

Follow @BCPS_Sup

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