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Survivors want a say in Jim Crow Crownsville Hospital future

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Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo

“You have to stop and think about what they did to our people,” said Alfred Dorsey, a Black Annapolis resident who worked at Crownsville in the 1970s.

Patients at the hospital, which opened in 1911 as the Maryland Hospital for the Negro Insane, were forced to provide free labor and undergo medical experimentation until the institution was integrated. The facility, which changed its name to Crownsville Hospital in 1912, closed in 2004 and has sat mostly vacant since then. The county’s food bank and two addiction treatment centers lease some of the property.

“We were taking care of the whites who were supposed to be taking care of us, and they experimented on us [Black people] and we were abused,” said Faye Belt, a former Crownsville nurse and the leader of Crownsville Caretakers United, made up of former patients and employees. “Anne Arundel County needs to hear our voice.”

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