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SMCM Professor Merideth Taylor Receives Historic Preservation Service Award


May 26, 2010
Press Release #10-117

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Merideth Taylor, professor of theater and dance at St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM), received a 2010 Historic Preservation Service Award for her documentary "With All Deliberate Speed: One High School's Story." The documentary, about the desegregation of Great Mills High School in Southern Maryland, was written, directed, and produced by Taylor and edited by David Taylor and Bryan Tosh at Phocus Video.  The award was presented by the St. Mary's County Board of Commissioners and the members of the St. Mary's County Historic Preservation Commission. 

"I'm grateful to Janice Walthour and Mary Washington for nominating me and have found the community's response to the film very gratifying," said Taylor. "I'm hoping that the award will bring renewed attention to the film and that more people will see it as a result. In addition to its availability in libraries, on YouTube and on local cable TV stations, I've been providing personal copies to individuals for a $20 donation to Unified Committee for Afro-American Contribution's fund for the erection of a monument to the United States Colored Troops. I'm particularly happy to know that the St. Mary's County Public Schools plans to integrate the documentary into the social studies curriculum." 

"It is important that all citizens of St. Mary's County recognize our role in the segregation era and the desegregation period that followed," said Francis Jack Russell, president of the County Commissioners. "We must be familiar with the hardships that local African Americans faced during the integration of segregated high schools and Merideth's documentary plays an important role in educating the public about this transition period."

Taylor's documentary gives voice to those who experienced the desegregation process at Great Mills High School between 1958 and 1972.  It also outlines the difficult transition period of integrating the segregated high schools' communities.  The film was screened at this year's sixth annual Southern Maryland Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast at SMCM.  The video can be viewed on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=smcm#p/u/2/qg7TXldDgYw.  A grant from the PNC Foundation Legacy Project and the Maryland Humanities Council made the documentary possible. 

The Historic Preservation Awards began in the spring of 1999 and are given to businesses, organizations, or individuals who demonstrate outstanding achievement in and support for furthering the aims of historic preservation in St. Mary's County through education, research, development, community leadership, and planning advocacy. 

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review. Founded in 1840 as Maryland's "monument school" commemorating the state's first capital, SMCM is the state's only public honors college.

More than 2,000 students attend the college, which has the highest graduation rate for all Maryland public colleges and universities. The school's waterfront campus along the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland is home to the 2009 National Intercollegiate Sailing Association Co-ed champions.