Copy of CivilrightsmarkerCP
The Jones-Hill House on the University of Maryland College Park campus. Photo Credit: Aiesha Solomon

Since the last Black History Month in 2023, several locations along Prince George County’s Civil Rights Trail have received new signage and markers to help residents and visitors better understand what life was like from the 1940s to the 1960s when the county was legally segregated. The trail is a public history project partly funded by a National Park Service African American Civil Rights grant of $45,100, with another $40,000 from a Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant.

The trail currently has nine locations. “We would definitely consider this more of a thematic trail,” said Meagan Baco, executive director of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, which manages the trail. The sites aren’t linked geographically but by their historical significance. You can visit the physical locations and read the short histories or take a virtual tour at

Baco said that creating the trail was a lengthy process that involved extensive research.

The signs for each of five sites, including St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, Laurel Municipal Swimming Pool and Sis’s Tavern, in North Brentwood, were installed in April 2023. Each sign has photos, information about the site and links to the website.

“It is very important to recognize the events and locations that the trail markers are highlighting,” said Sandra Johnson, a historian at St. Mark’s, in an email. “The events were instrumental in changing the segregated conditions that existed in Laurel and Prince George’s County. The people from the churches and other locations were Trail Blazers in the Civil Rights movement.”

St. Mark’s actively supported the Civil Rights Movement, including organizing buses to take participants into the District for the 1963 March on Washington. The church’s organizing efforts made it a target of the Ku Klux Klan which attempted to burn parts of Laurel’s African American community. Afterward, “Rev. John Evans and the Laurel Grove community leaders met with Mayor Harrison  to request improvements to the Grove and the integration of the Laurel pool, and the Laurel pool was integrated in 1968,” Johnson said.

Another site, Cole Field House at the University of Maryland (UMD) was already famous for hosting the historic 1966 basketball game where Texas Western, the first NCAA team to have five Black starters, defeated the top-ranked University of Kentucky team, which was all white. However, in 2021, it was renamed Jones-Hill House in memory of two groundbreaking Maryland athletes, football player Darryl Hill and Billy Jones, who played basketball. Both were the first Black athletes in their sports to play at Maryland and in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Both spoke of their experiences of being recruited by UMD.

 As a Towson High School student, Jones played three Baltimore area championship games at the university’s Cole Field House. “They saw me play in the field house three straight years, and based on my reputation and basketball [skills,] I think they felt that I could play there [in college]” Jones said.

 Hill was already playing football for the Naval Academy but “decided [he] did not want to be a naval officer,” he recounted in a phone interview. When UMD coach Lee Corso offered him a scholarship, Hill did not initially jump. 

Hill thought, “That’s all good, but I’m not trying to be Jackie Robinson. I just want to go to college and play football and have some fun. Go to school and drink beer and chase girls and do what students do. He looked at me, and he said, ‘Oh, I see. Say, you’re afraid aren’t you?’ That was the right button to push.” 

 “It’s hard to imagine the pressure on these young men to perform knowing that so many people were wishing them to fail,” wrote Nathan Dennies, a researcher for the trail. “Despite this, they both thrived. Hill broke the ACC record for touchdown catches. Jones became team captain.”

 Finally, there is Sis’s Tavern, in North Brentwood. Marie “Sis” Walls ran the tavern after buying the building in 1966. According to Petrella Robinson, mayor of North Brentwood, Walls expanded the enterprise to include entertainment. “That place was a destination for Blacks who could not be in the sundown towns after dark, and it was an entertainment venue,” Robinson said.

 “Sis’s is important as an example of Black entrepreneurship during segregation,” Dennies wrote in an email. “And to land acts like Duke Ellington and Pearl Bailey! White audiences would pay top dollar to see the Duke. And here he was traveling to this little club in North Brentwood to play for this local Black audience. Very cool.” 

 For more information on the Prince George’s County Civil Rights Trail, go to