After more than 100 years, Emma L. Grason Miller finally received recognition for her pioneering accomplishment as a founding Kent County educator.
Miller was the first Black Supervisor of Colored Schools and driving force behind establishing the first Black school built in 1916 that would become the H.H. Garnet School.
Two plaques at H.H, Garnet School now commemorate her extraordinary life and influence on Maryland history.
On Saturday, December 10, Chesapeake Heartland, members of Kent County Public Schools, the Garnet Alumni Association, and descendants of Emma Miller gathered at Garnet School to celebrate her life with the dedication of the Emma L. Grason Miller Media Center.
Chesapeake Heartland curation fellow Karen Somerville launched the dedication project with an appeal to the Kent County Board of Education and spoke of the educator’s life during the ceremony and presented her video documenting Miller’s life.
Other in attendance were H.H. Garnet Elementary School music students; Principal Brenda Rose, St. Francis academy Head of School Dr. Curtis Turner, Associate Head of School Melissa D’adamo, Archivist at Oblate Sisters of Providence Sharon Knecht, and Miller’s great-great granddaughter Lynn Porter and husband Melvin Porter.
The Media Center plaque reads, “Emma L. Grason Miller Media Center. 1869-1951. Dedicated and renamed 2022 by the Chesapeake Heartland Project, Kent County Board of Education, Descendants Lynn & Melvin Porter, and Private Donors. “In honor of her unwavering dedication to attain higher education for Black pupils of Kent County. The first Black supervisor of ‘colored’ schools, she spearheaded the construction of Garnet High School.”
The plaque installed at the entrance to H. H. Garnet School reads, “Henry Highland Garnet Elementary School. Garnet School, built in 1916, was a wooden structure located on College Avenue, built under the leadership of Emma L. Grason Miller, Kent County’s first Black Supervisor of Colored Schools 1911-1922. Its first graduating class of five students was in 1925. Born in Baltimore, MD, in 1869, Emma received her elementary education at the St. Frances School for Colored Girls, now St. Frances Academy. In 1997, she graduated from the Hampton Agricultural and Industrial School, VA, a school of higher education for Negroes and Native Americans, now historic Hampton University.
The school was named for Henry Highland Garnet, born 1815. Garnet was a renowned orator, preacher, abolitionist, and first Black speaker to address the House of Representatives following the passage of the 13th Amendment. At the age of nine, Garnet escaped slavery with his family from New Market, (Chesterville) Kent County.
In 1949, this brick structure was built for Black students in grades 1-12, until full integration of county schools in 1967.”
Last August, the Spy interviewed Karen Somerville to talk about Emma L. Grason Miller. For that interview, please, go here.
This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more about Chesapeake Heartland and the documentary of Emma L. Grason Miller’s life please go here.