ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — As we’re celebrating Juneteenth all month long, we’re giving you a glimpse of the life and challenges of Reverend Josiah Henson, a man who was born into slavery and one who has strong ties to our area.
An author, abolitionist, and minister, Josiah Henson plays a big role in Maryland’s Black history. He was born in Charles County, Maryland on June 15th, 1789.
Historic Site Manager of the Josiah Henson Museum & Park, Mark Thorne said, “He conducted 118 other enslaved people to freedom. That was a big deal for him.”
In 1830, he made his way to Canada for a short while, where he would teach fugitive slaves at a laborer’s school.
Throughout his life, Henson fought tirelessly for racial equality and justice.
“We opened this museum to tell about the story about his life, the challenges of slavery for those that were enslaved here in the state of Maryland, but to also talk about things like social justice,” Thorne stated.
Most of the fight went on right in our neck of the woods in Montgomery County. The Josiah Henson Museum & Park is now open in Rockville on the grounds of the plantation.
“Our park sits on about a four-acre park that was part of the 560-acre plantation that was here on this site. So when we opened last year, we opened this museum to tell about the story about his life,” Thorne said.
Part of Montrose Parkway was renamed Josiah Henson Parkway in his honor. Montgomery Parks is holding a birthday celebration on the grounds in Henson’s honor as well.