Moving Through Barriers in Brentwood

North Brentwood, Maryland – May 11, 2019: The Barrier Project by Orange Grove Dance Company is a dance performed at the literal barrier between the historically African American North Brentwood and the historically white Brentwood in Maryland. CREDIT: Matt Roth for Neighborhood Design Center

A metal guardrail barrier located on Windom Road marks the boundary of Brentwood and North Brentwood. The barrier was placed in its location around 1957 as a way to separate the historically white population of Brentwood from the African-American community of North Brentwood. Today, the two towns are working towards changing the narrative of the past through transforming the barrier into a place of memory, community and art.

In 2017, NDC was invited by the Mayors of Brentwood and North Brentwood to re-imagine the look and experience of the barrier. NDC conducted a design workshop, established a signage framework, developed an early landscape concept and has since worked with the towns to procure funding for implementation.

On May 11th, NDC joined community members for an interactive performance that builds on the work of reconnecting the two communities. The Barrier Project performance art and dance is part of the Mapping Racism project and was conceived and directed by Orange Grove Dance, with support of Joe’s Movement Emporium, Hyattsville Community Development Corporation and the towns of North Brentwood and Brentwood. The dancers moved up to and through the rain-soaked barrier, echoing the perseverance of North Brentwood residents who withstood decades of flooding and economic setbacks.