Supporting the Future, Preserving the Past

Posted by Al Hathaway Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. . . Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Jeremiah 29: 4 - 7


Principals of Community Churches for Community Development, Rev. Dr. S. Todd Yeary, Rev. Dr. Arnold Howard, and Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr., stood with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake to proclaim that CHAP should do all in its power to stop the stalemate and permit the redevelopment of a significant downtown inner city block to move forward under the development plan The Dawson Company has on the table.

At issue memorializing the 1955 Civil Rights Sit-In held at the former Read's Drug Store. We believe that historic preservation and economic development can co-exist and be compatible. To achieve that goal, compromise is necessary.

Too many people are out of work or marginally employed to further delay projects that can have major impact to Baltimore's economy.

Our advocacy for redeveloping significant projects in Baltimore City is not new. We have been strong advocates for the redevelopment of The State Center Project and have worked to create an Economic Inclusion Plan for that project that will be replicated in this one.

This plan will put people within the affected zip codes and Baltimore City to work. It will ensure that there is an economic opportunity for minority and female owned businesses.

Some of my good friends and colleagues line up on the opposite side and insist that the interior of the former Read's Drugstore should be retained. Yesterday, I walked into the building and the interior of that building is complete destroyed from decades of neglect. Nothing remains worth retaining on the inside of the building. However, I believe we can integrate the historical significance of the Civil Rights movement into the decor of the renovated space. I also believe that we can create dynamic monuments outside and on the Campus of Morgan State University that memorializes the contributions of the students who took the stand to sit at the Read's lunch counter in 1955.

The Jeremiah text I quote above is God's plan for survival and prosperity when the people of Israel was in bondage. He admonished God's people to pray for the peace of the city because as it prospered the His people will proper. God's plan worked for them. I believe God's plan will work for us today.

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