Located in Baltimore, Maryland, The Frederick Douglass – Isaac Myers Maritime Park is a national heritage park that honors the contributions of African-Americans to maritime culture. Previously servicing as a shipyard, this maritime park interrogates, interprets and celebrates the myriad of developments Blacks made specifically to the city of Baltimore.
As one of the oldest industrial buildings located on the city’s waterfront to still be utilized, the Frederick Douglass – Isaac Myers Maritime Park is also the headquarters and site of the Living Classrooms Foundation. Founded in 1985, this nonprofit foundation was created to meet the needs of those in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas in order to, as per the maritime park’s website, “disrupt the cycle of poverty and make our community safe, stronger and healthier by meeting individuals where they are and building skills for life. Living Classrooms inspire children, youth and adults to achieve their potential through hands-on education, workforce development, health and wellness and violence prevention programming.”
The maritime park is named in honor of Frederick Douglass and Isaac Myers. Douglass, who was born in Maryland, a slave-holding state of America, worked as a laborer in the Baltimore shipyards. He became one of the greatest intellectuals, orators and activists of the 19th century. He advisied presidents and was the first African American citizen to be given political appointments, including serving as the United States’ minister resident andconsul-general to the Republic of Haiti and Charge d’Affaires for Santo Domingo in 1889, within the United States government.
Isaac Myers, though born in Baltimore, was a free Black who was one of the first African-American trade unionists and labor leaders in the United States. His work, centered upon the maritime industry, included acting as a supervisor of one of the largest shipyards in Baltimore. He also worked as a shipping clerk and chief porter for a wholesale grocery firm, which greatly influenced his experience in becoming a co-operative grocery organizer. However, it is his work as a caulker that would lead to groundbreaking steps for greater Black autonomy and power within the labor industry.