Louis S. Diggs was born in Baltimore, Maryland on April 13, 1932 to George and Agrada Diggs. Though he was born on Dewey Avenue in Hoes Heights, he spent most of his young life on Stricker Street in the Sandtown area. Louis attended Douglass High School, quitting school in 1950 to join the all-Black Maryland National Guard (726th Transportation Truck Company of the 231st Transportation Truck Battalion) when they were federalized to support the Korean War. He saw action in the Korean War from 1950 until 1952.
Louis decided during the Korean War to make the military a career; staying the US Army until 1970 when he retired with more that twenty years of service. He made several trips to Korea, two trips to Germany, and one trip to Japan. His most notable assignment was his appointment at Sergeant Major of the ROTC Detachment at the then Morgan State College where he was assigned from early 1957 to late 1964. His family joined him in Stuttgart, Germany where they resided from 1964 to 1967. His fourth son, Fredric Quentin Diggs was born in Germany.
Louis married the former Shirley Washington of Catonsville, MD on May 1, 1954. Not only did Louis fall in love with Shirley, but he also fell in love with Catonsville. They resided in various homes in the Winters Lane area, and in 1979, Louis and Shirley built the home of their dreams on Arunah Avenue, just two blocks off of Winters Lane where they still reside.
After his retirement from the US Army in October 1970, Louis took a position with the District of Columbia Public Schools as a Military Instructor at Ballou High School. He remained with the DC Public Schools until 1989 when he retired the second time as the Assistant to the Personnel Director for Staffing.
Though Louis only formally completed the 10th grade in high School, he successfully completed the GED program in Korea in 1951. In 1975, he earned his high school diploma. He graduated from Catonsville Community College with an AA degree in 1976, and he graduated from the University of Baltimore with a BA degree (cum laude) in 1979 and a Masters of Public Administration Degree in 1982. He did post graduate studies at the George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Since full retirement in 1989, Louis found his niche in retirement life by researching his family roots and researching and writing local African American history. He also spent numerous years being a substitute teacher at Catonsville High School where all four of his sons graduated from. It was the students at Catonsville High School that encouraged Louis to research and write about the history of the historic African American community of Winters Lane in Catonsville. In 1995, Louis published his first book, “It All Started on Winters Lane.”
So successful was his first book, that Louis decided to continue his research of other historic African American communities in Baltimore County. In 1997, he published his second book, “Holding On To Their Heritage,” a book that documented the history of two other historic African American Communities in Baltimore County, MD: Bond Avenue in Reisterstown and Piney Grove in Boring.
Both of his books proved not only to be of historic value to society, but a wonderful research tools for African Americans searching for their roots, as both books are full of data on families, and other members of the communities in churches, schools, social and fraternal organizations, etc.
In 1997, Louis was awarded a grant of $7,000 from Baltimore County, Maryland to write his third book on three other historic African American communities in Baltimore County: Chattolanee in the Greenspring Valley, Cowdensville in Arbutus, and the Oblate Sisters of Providence, also in Arbutus. This third book was published in 1999, titled “In Our Voices.”
Louis is also currently gathering photographs, interviews and historical information on Lutherville, East Towson, Lutherville, Schwartz Avenue, and Granite, all historic African American communities in Baltimore County, for his fourth book. He has been awarded another $7,000 grant from Baltimore County, Maryland to write this fourth book.
Louis shares with the public a photographic display of over 2,000 photographs of Black life in Baltimore County that he has collected thus far. These were all beautifully displayed at the annual Baltimore County African American Cultural Festivals held in Towson, MD.
Louis Diggs' Official Web Site
Blacks Residing in Baltimore - Baltimore City Directories 1810-1866
Runaway Slave Ads, Baltimore County, MD - 1842-1863
Submitted by the AfriGeneas Staff
Photo and biography courtesy of louisdiggs.com