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On Wednesday, Maryland Governor Wes Moore announced a $9 million dollar investment in Oyster restoration programs for the state. Specifically, the funds will go to Oyster Recovery Partnership.

Oyster Recovery Partnership is a non-profit organization that supports environmental restoration programs in Maryland. The state is home to many native oyster populations, negatively affected by the climate crisis.

In addition to oyster restoration, the funds will enhance important capital projects for museums, community centers, medical and athletic facilities, community revitalization, and historical buildings in Maryland. Governor Moore hopes the investment will create both economic and social progress for the state.

According to Governor Moore, “The funds awarded today will help ensure that some of Maryland’s most renowned institutions and most important economic drivers will continue to thrive and grow. We are committed, through these investments, to moving Maryland forward.”

Maryland’s first Black Gov. moves to restore environment

With the funds, Maryland will also move a step closer to meeting the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement of 2014. The agreement focuses on the need for clean water and sustainable conservation land in the Chesapeake Bay.

Meanwhile, Oysters have long played an important role in Black history and culture. According to Zella Palmer, culinary historian, “Traditionally, it was always Black folks who were predominantly in the seafood business.”

In fact, Black communities have been harvesting, cultivating, and selling oysters since at least the 18th century. In the late 1800s, Entrepreneur Thomas Downing, the son of slaves, opened a busy oyster restaurant in New York City.

Prior to Downing’s investment, only lower-class people ate the bivalves. But now, they are a delicacy, thanks to the work by Black communities in the South. 

It’s yet another reason why Governor Wes Moore wants to see investment in the oyster economy in Maryland. The first Black governor of the state believes in investing in Black communities, noting that he “believes Maryland can be different.” 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...