It is important to us here at My Annapolis Office to show our appreciation for our members. Each month we sit down with one of our members to highlight their company. This month we spoke with Vincent Leggett and Carnelious Jones about their company, Blacks of The Chesapeake. Continue reading to learn more:
Tell me about yourself.
I’m the visionary leader, founder, and president of the Blacks of the Chesapeake. I’ve worked in education for 22 years, with kids from K-16, including a stint as president of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. I have served as the president and CEO of two multi-million public, affordable, and assisted housing agencies in the county, as well as 10 years with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This scope of work focused upon Historical Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU’s) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSI’s) such as the University of Maryland. Equally, important work at DNR involved close planning and coordination with federal agencies through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program.
Academically I have earned degrees in Urban Planning & Community Development, BS, Morgan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration, MPA, and Central Michigan University.
Tell us about your company and what you do.
Beginning as a labor of love, Blacks of the Chesapeake was created in 1984, out of a desire to capture the oral histories of African American men and women whose lives had been shaped by the Chesapeake Bay and its many tributaries. The noble subjects, Black watermen, of our publications, projects, programs documentary films, and oral histories were seventy-plus years of age 30 years ago. These farmers of the Chesapeake Bay and generational watermen toiled in the region’s seafood and related maritime communities for centuries.
How did you get started in your industry?
I was introduced to the Chesapeake Bay by my dad, the late Charlie Leggett. I was reared in Baltimore but always considered myself a “Country Boy from East Baltimore”. Both my mom Willie Mae and father migrated from North Carolina to Baltimore in the early 1950s. However, during the summers, my siblings and I returned to the Carolina’s. That experience provided a much-needed respite from the grit and grime of urban life. Those early land-based encounters were my connection to my parent’s and grandparents’ farming backgrounds.
It was from these roots that I was set on a course that eventually lead to the establishment of the Blacks of the Chesapeake. Our early work was built around researching the roles of watermen and farmers on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay.
What is something about your business that most people do not know?
The BOCF was founded upon four pillars: Education, History, Culture, and the Environment. In 2000, the Library of Congress and the U. S. Congress designated the Blacks of the Chesapeake as a “Local Legacy Project” for bringing to light this little-known and documented aspect of Americana. African American men and women were the backbones of the region’s seafood and maritime industries.
For nearly, four decades we have been sharing their significant contributions to the Maryland culture and economy. Blacks were so much more than crab pickers and oyster shuckers; they were Bay Pilots, boat builders, captains, sail makers, owners of seafood processing plants, chefs, and restaurant owners.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
The BOCF also has an advocacy component influencing public policy and legislative initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels. The Chesapeake Bay is a billion-dollar industry and African Americans and other minorities are woefully under-represented in historical recognition and resource allocation. Part of our mission is to change that reality.
We work collaboratively with public officials, and community-based organizations identifying barriers and opportunities for greater justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. If we are to improve the water quality of the beloved Chesapeake Bay, we need to have all of the stakeholders at the table.
Other than work, what are you passionate about?
Family matters to me and I’m involved with my maternal and paternal family organizations. Along with my wife Aldena Pinkney, we are leaders within the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church (Ark Road), Lothian, MD. In addition, I serve as the volunteer Chaplain for the Fire Department of the City of Annapolis.
Why did you choose My Annapolis Office and how has working here helped your business?
It is a great location with wonderful staff, parking, and attractive office space, conference rooms, and lounge. There are networking opportunities with other businesses in the complex, some of whom gave you all a high rating.
To learn more about Blacks Of The Chesapeake, please visit: https://blacksofthechesapeake.wildapricot.org/