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Friday, July 1, 2022

Meet the Man Who was Recognized for Preserving African American Heritage in Maryland

Theodore “Ted” H. Mack has given a lifetime of service promoting Maryland’s African American heritage and has made a recognizable impact along the way. On May 20, 2022, he was formally recognized during a program at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Maryland for these contributions, while being honored as a 2022 recipient of the Calvert Prize.  The honor is Maryland Historical Trust’s (MHT’s) most prestigious award. According to MHT’s website, it is a state agency which is “dedicated to preserving and interpreting the legacy of Maryland’s past.” Through MHT, Marylanders are assisted with becoming knowledgeable about their “historical and cultural heritage.” 

Nell Ziehl –MHT’s Chief, Office of Planning, Education and Outreach— informed The Baltimore Times that Mack “made a tremendous statewide impact in the protection, stewardship, and interpretation of historic and cultural sites, particularly in his eight years as chair of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC).”

Ziehl also reminded that Mack was selected as the only 2022 Calvert Prize winner. 

“The Maryland Historical Trust Board of Trustees awards no more than one Calvert Prize per year, and it is not awarded every year,” Ziehl said, noting that Rodney Little previously received the honor in 2015. “A committee of the Maryland Historical Trust Board of Trustees selects the Maryland Preservation Award recipients each year, including the Calvert Prize, if applicable.”

A public nomination is made available annually through MHT’s website. Ziehl further explained that  Calvert Prize nominations are typically submitted by members of the Board of Trustees. In Mack’s case, Dr. Barbara Paca—who is a Trustee of the Maryland Historical Trust—nominated him.

Theodore “Ted” H. Mack was recognized with this Calvert Prize for providing a lifetime of service in promoting African American heritage in Maryland and making a statewide impact.
Photo credit – Gerald Ringgold

Mack, the Chair Emeritus of MCAAHC, is also a retired U.S. Army Special Agent. The highly regarded leader has deep Maryland roots and a legacy of giving back.  Mack shared that he has been a resident of Crownsville, Severn, Odenton and Fort Meade, Maryland for more than 60 years. His interest in promoting Maryland’s African American heritage developed through working with the North Arundel Cultural Preservation Society (NACPS). 

“My wife, Betty and I got started as volunteers with our fellow church members and community leaders more than 20 years ago,” Mack told The Baltimore Times. “Our preservation work was recognized through museum exhibits, historic quilting circles, numerous presentations and collaborations, and the publication of two books. We did not realize then that we were just getting started.”

Information provided on MHT’s website provides further insight about MCAAHC’s affiliation with MHT. It mentions how grants “assist in the preservation of buildings, sites, or communities of historical and cultural importance to the African American experience in Maryland” through the African American Heritage Preservation Program (AAHPP). Additionally, the MHT and the MCAAHC partner to administer this program which normally receives a $1 million annual grant appropriation. However, while speaking at the Banneker-Douglass Museum when Mack was honored, Rev. Dr. Tamara England Wilson—the current MCAAHC Chair — mentioned that through a bill, the grant was increased to $5 million during this legislative session. Additionally, a second bill reportedly secured MCAAHC’s future.

“It gave us our independence,” Wilson said, referring to the Senator Verda Welcome Act. “It increased our (annual) budget $1 million dollars.”

MCAAHC was approved to be established as an independent agency. Wilson credited Mack’s vision with continuation of MCAAHC’s legacy for the next generation. Wilson added that others who are located across the country are observing MCAAHC to explore the possibility of establishing a similar commission in their states.

Mack, who is regarded as an innovative leader, explained to The Baltimore Times how heritage projects are selected under the AAHPP.

“Heritage projects are submitted by residents and communities across the counties of Maryland and Baltimore City. The projects are reviewed and evaluated by the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust before final selection by the Governor of Maryland,” Mack said, also mentioning the benefits of project selection. “Heritage projects have made a sustained contribution to the One Maryland history with a more equitable recognition and integration of African American history and culture by preserving historic buildings, churches, museums, homes, monuments and parks.”

Ten 2022 awards were presented by MHT, ranging from individual leadership to making noteworthy accomplishments in the preservation field. The value of historic preservation and promoting America’s historic places is underscored during National Preservation Month.  

“I just want to take this time to say if you want to get something done, you do it,” Mack said, while speaking at Banneker-Douglass Museum.

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