The Limits of LBJ’s Great Society

May 27, 2014

By Michael A. Fletcher
May 18, 2014
Published by The Washington Post

Joseph M. Parker Sr. has lived in Prince George’s County all of his life, occupying a world that has always been pretty much all black — first by law, then by choice.

He grew up in Fairmount Heights, one of the earliest black towns in a county that was then overwhelmingly white. He graduated from all-black Fairmont Heights High School, then historically black Maryland State Teachers College at Bowie. His first teaching jobs were in the county’s segregated elementary schools.

After Parker married, he and his wife moved to the Addison Chapel Apartments in Capitol Heights. “That was the only place in all of P.G. where a black person could rent in an apartment complex,” Parker recalled.

Now 79, Parker is a retiree living a comfortable life in a spacious rancher in Mitchellville, but he recounts his history with more than a tinge of bitterness. The pattern of exclusion Parker experienced in Prince George’s held for decades, circumscribing his possibilities and those of most African Americans both in the county and across America. read more