In 1927, forty students about to enter the eighth grade, along with their teacher, arrived in the morning to open the doors to their small, two-room schoolhouse for the first time.
There were already ten public school high schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. But these forty students were not allowed to attend any of them because of the color of their skin.
Before Us Lies the Timber tells the complete story of a single high school, first known as Rockville Colored High School. Because of the aggressive determination and tireless persistence by local Black leaders, Rockville Colored High School became the first high school in Montgomery County for African-American boys and girls eager to continue their education.
Before the school’s opening, young African-Americans in Montgomery County were faced with a difficult decision if they wanted to continue their education. They would either have to leave their families, as the only high schools for African-Americans at that time were in Baltimore City or Washington D.C., or stay at home to eke out a living as a domestic or labor on their parents’ farms.
The author Warrick S. Hill was himself a graduate of Lincoln High in 1945. Warrick S. Hill has assembled an abundance of not only historical information, but personal stories as well. Each graduating class is given its own commemorative chapter, recreating, year by year, the trials, challenges, and accomplishments of these unique students attending the high school they loved.
Struggling through economic, social, and transportation challenges, they journeyed towards their diplomas. The first graduating class of Rockville Colored High chose as their motto “Before Us Lies the TimberLet Us Build,” reflecting their dreams for the future.
The stories chronicled in this book are not merely a biographical record of African-American students in Montgomery County, but rather a historical archive that will keep their memories alive for future generations.