An Afro Clean Block

Posted by Unknown Saturday, February 27, 2010 0 comments

The Baltimore Afro American Newspapers recently released this photo of the 1800 Block of Druid Hill Avenue in the Upton section of Baltimore, Maryland. This picture is dated as being taken in 1939. That's 71 years ago. Every day I drive down Druid Hill Avenue to the 1200 Block of Druid Hill Avenue. No where along that stretch of road would you now see any area that looks this nice.

What happened in 70 years to cause our urban areas to regress into decay and despair? What needs to be done to return urban areas all over America to places of dignity and aesthetic beauty?

I believe the key is contain within this photograph.

First, we have to instill in youth a sense of pride that where they live matters. Second, we need to eliminate vacant houses within our blocks. Third, we need aesthetic standards to which property owners must adhere. Fourth, we need the full support of local government's capital resources in the maintenance of our urban blocks. And, Fifth, we need to make certain that property owners regularly clean the areas in the front and rear of their properties on a regular basis.

It is distressful to recognize that the internal fabric of our communities have frayed so badly. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that we can rebuilt our families, our fabric, and our faith once again.

Dr. William "Bill" Lucy

Posted by Unknown Friday, February 26, 2010 0 comments

Also at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference this week, I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. William "Bill" Lucy. This amazing man follows in the footsteps of the legendary A. Phillip Randolph who understood the connection between worker rights and civil rights. In my conversation with him he was knowledgeable about the work of Civil Rights leaders in Baltimore: Rev. Vernon Dobson and Dr. Homer Favor.

In fact he informed me that he was coming to Baltimore soon to talk with them about the "good old days." Dr. Lucy provided the muscle to the Civil Rights struggle led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who knew that he could count on the people power of the labor unions. The Memphis garbage worker's strike was a labor union issue that became a civil rights concern of international renown.

Rev. Dr. James M. Lawson, Jr.

Posted by Unknown Thursday, February 25, 2010 0 comments

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Rev. Dr. James M. Lawson, Jr. this week while attending the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference in St. Petersberg, Florida.

One may ask, who is Dr. Lawson?

He is the architect of nonviolence in the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.

Dr. Lawson states,"It was a sanctifying moment for my life then, because I realized there was a Christian history, a long tradition, of some people - through oftentimes not the hierarchy nor the theologians, and often not the pastors preaching and teaching it - but that there was, based on the life of Jesus, that edge of people who insisted that love was all embracing and all compelling, that therefore in the spirit of love and the spirit of Jesus one could not resist evil by imitating the evil, but by seeking to over-come evil with good. I recognized that the battle against racism and segregation would be one of my concerns as a pastor, as a follower of Jesus, And I understood myself then as wanting to perhaps work in the South one day." He went to work in the South and became a confidant of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and informed him about the potential power of nonviolence as a strategy. He trained untold numbers of people in this Christian tactic that is recognized all around the world as a tool by the poor against the powerful.

Meeting and talking with him was a blessing indeed!

Mr. Shani Davis

Posted by Unknown Friday, February 19, 2010 0 comments

Shani Davis has skated into the history books. I've often wondered about the talents and skills of African Americans. It has been my contention that if given the opportunity to learn, to train, and to compete in any endeavor; it wouldn't be long before they would excel. Mr. Davis has proven that premise in winning another Olympic gold medal in speed skating. This powerful brother skates with grace and endurance. He is a pleasure to behold. I commend him for sticking to his dream and accomplishing another milestone during February's Black History month. Defending his championship gold metal in the 1,000 meter race is outstanding.

Mr. Carl Stokes

Posted by Unknown Thursday, February 18, 2010 0 comments

I have lived in Baltimore long enough to understand that when it comes to matters of politics - experience counts. The Baltimore City Council has to make a decision on who to seat in the Councilmatic seat recently vacated by City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young. There are many worthy candidates seeking to be seated. Among those candidates is one who will be able to hit the ground running at a time when we do not need a person learning on the job. The Baltimore City Council is faced with serious issues related to the budget, to the realignment and restructuring of city agencies, to improving educational opportunities for our youth, to creating job opportunities, and to maintaining a good relationship with State and Federal Government. The person most capable of stepping in and doing the job on day one is Mr. Carl Stokes. His strengths outweigh his weaknesses. His work with educating African American males has been outstanding. His understanding of City government and the work of the City Council is on par with any practitioner at this time. He is a person who is worthy of serious consideration by the City Council Members for the seat vacated by City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young.

Dr. Roy L. Belfield, Jr.

Posted by Unknown Wednesday, February 17, 2010 0 comments

The Senior Choir of Union Baptist Church will hold a music workshop on Saturday, February 20th conducted by Dr. Roy Belfield, Jr.

Dr. Belfield will also be the guest organist on Sunday, February 21st from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Union Baptist Church, 1219 Druid Hill Avenue.

Roy L. Belfield, Jr., a native of Petersburg, Virginia, began his undergraduate studies in Music at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Masters’ degrees in Music Education and Organ Performance from Florida State University in Tallahassee, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Organ Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. Additional studies in vocal pedagogy have been at the University of Alabama. As an educator, Dr. Belfield has taught students from preschool to college. As a church musician, he has served six denominations throughout the country. He currently serves as Church Organist at United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. As composer and arranger, Dr. Belfield has written works for chorus, voice and piano, and organ. His choral and organ works are published by Mark Foster, a division of Shawnee Press, MorningStar Music, GIA Publications, and Wayne Leupold Editions. Dr. Belfield’s articles have been published in The American Organist and the Choral Journal. Dr. Belfield is currently Assistant Professor of Music, University Organist, and Assistant Director of Choral Studies at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. At Winston-Salem State, he teaches Music Theory, Choral Arranging, and accompanies the Winston-Salem State University Choir.

Ms. Lucille Clifton

Posted by Unknown Monday, February 15, 2010 0 comments

My heart is somewhat sadden to learn of the passing of Ms. Lucille Clifton. The early 70's was an exciting period of time in Baltimore history. Fresh from the riots and its devastation, many of us where attending local colleges and universities. The dialogue on the street was fresh, introspective, and radical. There was room for the intellectual, as well as the those who were spontaneous. In the mix were the poets and writers who challenged us to dream literary dreams: Nikki Giovanni, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Eric Jerome Dickey, Haki R. Mathubati, Malcolm X, Dick Gregory, Gil Scott-Heron, and in the mix was Ms. Lucille Clifton.

She enriched the educational experience of all those who ventured onto the campus of Coppin State College(later University). Her elegant figure, distinguish looks, and distinctive linguistic style captured the imaginations of fertile young minds seeking to escape the trap of ignorance and supposed lack of culture and class. We reasoned that by training our minds and energizing our spirit; we would transcend the urban ghettos where we lived and become citizens of the world.

Ms. Clifton was a literary genius in our midst who ignited the creative spark in many of our minds and spirits. She was successful at the craft of writing and walked among us. She was available for consul and critique of your writing. She was one of the first poets I had encountered who used her craft as her means of economic empowerment.

I honor her during Black History Month 2010 and lament her passing.

May she rest in peace as she now walks with the angels!

Valentine's Day is very Special

Posted by Unknown Saturday, February 13, 2010 0 comments

You know if I wait until Monday, Feb. 15th, candy will be 50% off and I can save a few dollars and still tell my valentine she is special. I can use the snow as an excuse and celebrate on President's Day. I should get some points and a break for shoveling snow the past few days. I did take her to "Center Stage" last night to see "Let There Be Love" starring Avery Brooks. This is a must see, especially if you can get around the crude language. The messages Kwame Kwei-Armah has written into his play are very deep and profound.

Hear Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Posted by Unknown Thursday, February 11, 2010 0 comments

This picture is one of the classics. From left to right: Governor Parris Glendening, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Delegate Howard "Pete" Rawlings, and Governor William Donald Schaefer.

On Sunday, February 14, 2010 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will be the Breakfast Speaker for the Men's League of Union Baptist Church, 1219 Druid Hill Avenue.

You are invited to hear our newly installed Mayor share her vision for Baltimore City and respond to some of the issues facing our citizens. Attendance is limited to 100 persons: call 410-523-6880 for more information.

Who wants snow cream?

Posted by Unknown Wednesday, February 10, 2010 0 comments

When I was young we would make snow cones and snow cream out of the falling snow, but with all this climate change I'm afraid to eat this snow. A local paper printed a recipe for snow cream. After looking and shoveling all this snow, the last thing I would want to do is to have to eat it.

I need a back hoe!

Posted by Unknown Tuesday, February 9, 2010 0 comments

For all the snow we have gotten and what is expected to come, I need to rent a backhoe to clear out all of the stuff. My business mind tells me that I could make a premium dollar and eliminate any competition who happens to come by with a dime store shovel. I would have special pricing for the elderly, single women, and the sick. I would charge an hearty price for lazy men who make their women shovel the snow.

My problem is that I don't know where to rent and I don't know how to operate one.

Wishful thinking! Must be cabin fever!

Snow and More Snow - "I Jack!"

Posted by Unknown Monday, February 8, 2010 0 comments

Are you ready for more snow? I'm running out of places on put the snow we have already. My shovels are working well. My back and arms are holding up. Went out today to stock up on more food. I'm going to get out early tomorrow and put my bills in the mail. I have enough books to read and work to do. Since football is over I can concentrate on basketball: college and professional.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to comprehend that we may get 10 more inches of snow. When I was young and you where losing a fight, you could say, "I Jack." That would end the struggle. When it comes to this snow, "I Jack!"

As a child I had my tonsils removed at Maryland General Hospital, as an adult I serve on the Board of Directors. With great pride I am happy to report that we have completed a $57 Million addition to our hospital that will provide state of the art surgical rooms and services for patients who come there for care. Maryland General Hospital is a part of the University of Maryland Health Systems, a growing medical system that is making advances in health care of national renown. Playing a significant role in the redevelopment of West Baltimore, Maryland General Hospital has more improvements planned for the future.

When I look at the issue of African American Male Leadership in Baltimore City, I support the elevation of Bernard "Jack" Young to President of the Baltimore City Council. In a "Clarence "Du" Burns type fashion he has demonstrated in his life' story a commitment to community and political life that represents people who are left out of the corridors of power and who are not seated with decisions are made. He has not forgotten from whence he has come. I respect him for that. He is a community organizer who understands that power comes from organized people. I've sat in meetings when community leaders have called him on his cell phone to have him intercede in a matter right at that moment. I was impressed that his constituents had that type of direct access to their Council member. He has learned his job well be his participation in the details of City Government. When he becomes The President of the Baltimore City Council that is not the time for residents of the City to place a bulls eye on his back, that is the time to rally around him and let him know that we have his back. I look forward to discussions with him about our beloved City. I will continue to pray for him and his family. Most importantly I will insure that he is aware of the issues that affect people, "whose faces are at the bottom of the well."

Plowing the street where I live

Posted by Unknown Saturday, February 6, 2010 1 comments

I wonder when I'm going to see one of these come down my street. When you live on a side street in Baltimore you understand that in a storm of this size, the street you live on is not a priority. Well, I guess I can chalk Monday up as a loss and maybe Tuesday. Getting up and down my street will be hazardous.

I hear there is more snow in the forecast later this week. Where no you put all of the snow when you shovel your way out. I almost need Martha and the Vandellas to send a "Heat Wave." Young folk won't understand that!

Now I know I need a 4 X 4 vehicle. They chew through the snow like a bear cat. At least I can eat up the can goods I've been storing. I was saving them for a raining day. But a snowed-in day is far better.


Posted by Unknown 0 comments

What do you do with all of this snow? Union Baptist Church will have its worship service on the telephone on Sunday beginning at 11:00 a.m. If you are interested in joining us for worship, send me a note on Facebook and I will provide you with the call in number. Be Safe. Check on our seniors. Peace!

Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake

Posted by Unknown Thursday, February 4, 2010 0 comments

Today a new occupant takes the seat of Mayor of Baltimore City. It is interesting to note that in modern times a number of African American's have moved from President of The City Council to Mayor: The Honorable Clarence "Du" Burns, The Honorable Shelia Dixon, and now The Honorable Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake. Each individual has been indigenous to our city. Each individual has brought a unique set of experiences to the office.

In terms of prior experience: as a City Councilperson, a City Council President, an attorney, an a scion of a political family - Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake brings to the position a world view shaped by being steeped in the legislative process over 14 years ago, a youthful perspective shaped by technological interventions and rapidly changing circumstances in the lifestyles, race, religion and culture. Her tenure as Mayor holds a tremendous amount of promise. Entering the office under the age of 40 years old says a lot about her preparation, determination, and ability to navigate the pit falls and traps inherent in the political process in Baltimore City.

Nevertheless, I have lived long enough to understand that any occupant of the Mayor of the City of Baltimore sits in a seat of musical chairs. While she potentially could easily have a twenty year career as The Mayor of Baltimore, it will be imperative that she maintains discipline in her personnel and professional life that elevates the standards of civic life far above any we have seen thus far. She immediate sits on the bull-eye of public opinion and scrutiny. The Mayor's Office is inherently entangled with espionage and intrigue designed to incur favor for those who seek benefits and favors. It is ensnared in a network of wheeling and dealing to move policies and programs through the legislative process. It is the place where the limited resources of city government are dispensed with limited choices and dire consequences for those outside of the process.

I firmly believe that Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake can and will master the nuances of big city government. I firmly believe that her moral fiber and theological grounding will enable her to withstand the temptations of the office: like a modern day Queen Esther. I will join a chorus of faith people who will pray for her, her family and our city each and every day.

Not In My Neighborhood

Posted by Unknown Wednesday, February 3, 2010 0 comments

I just ordered from Amazon.Com the forthcoming book by Antero Pietila entitled, "Not In My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped A Great American City."

If you have seen any of the David Simon’s work -- Wire, The Corner, and Homicide – you know a bit about today’s Baltimore. Barry Levinson’s Liberty Heights in particular – or even John Waters movies – told you something about the city’s past. But none of that prepares you for Baltimore’s bigotry. Newspaper ads classified houses by race, or would state that Jews could not buy or rent. Jews were restricted to certain neighborhoods. In overall discrimination Baltimore was a trailblazer city. In 1910 it became the first American city to segregate each residential block by race. It was a border city but more segregated than many cities in the Deep South. Baltimore was the only city in the country that segregated even music: the city established a “colored” band and a “colored” symphony orchestra. In the 1920s and 1930s, Baltimore also was one of 239 cities that the federal government redlined.

The Bluest Eye

Posted by Unknown Tuesday, February 2, 2010 0 comments

The Amelia Johnson Reading Circle of Union Baptist Church is reading Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye."

Each month they share in interpreting the meaning of a book and its relevance to their daily lives. If you are interested in participating, I invite you to call 410-523-6880 to find out their meeting schedule.

The Theater Arts Department of Morgan State University will perform, "The Bluest Eye" directed by Ms. Shirley Basfield Dunlap beginning Feb. 27th - Mar. 7th

Theatre Morgan
The Bluest Eye

written by Lydia Diamond
directed by Shirley Basfield Dunlap

Based on Nobel-Prize-winning author Toni Morrison's THE BLUEST EYE is the story about the tragic life of a young Black girl in 1940s Ohio. Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove wants nothing more than to be loved by her family and schoolmates. Instead, she faces constant ridicule and abuse. With rich language and bold vision, this powerful adaptation of an American classic explores the crippling toll that a legacy of racism has taken on a community, a family, and an innocent girl.

Toni Morrison began writing fiction as part of an informal group of poets and writers at Howard University who met to discuss their work. She went to one meeting with a short story about a black girl who longed to have blue eyes. The story later evolved into her first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970), which she wrote while raising two children and teaching at Howard.In 2000 it was chosen as a selection for Oprah's Book Club.

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