The Rawlings-Blake Review: Black History Month

SPECIAL EDITION: Black History Month

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Issue #189 • Friday, February 7, 2014

IMAGE: Mayor Rawlings-Blake and mezzo soprano Bri Cooper

February is Black History Month, and this year, there is much to celebrate! 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the 150th  anniversary of emancipation in Maryland. This year we have an amazing opportunity to recognize the Marylanders who fought for freedom from slavery and their descendants, who continue to struggle and triumph. I hope that, throughout the month, you will take the opportunity to seek out these stories.

Stories like that of Anne Brown (1912 – 2009), the native daughter of Baltimore who originated the role of Bess in George Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess. Earlier today, we were privileged to hear Brown’s story, presented through story and song by award-winning operatic recitalist, recording artist, actress, and author Bridgette “Bri” Cooper. Ms. Cooper has been named one of the Voices of the New Millennium, and was honored to be the first classical singer featured in Black Enterprise Magazine.

This performance was part of It’s More Than History!—a lunch & learn lecture series presented by the Baltimore National Heritage Area in conjunction with my office. In Commemoration of Black History Month, the February series of It’s More Than History! honors Baltimore’s African American community and contributions to music and the arts. Join us in City Hall at noon on February 21 for the next lecture in the series, which tells the story of Ellis Larkins, Baltimore’s “poet of the piano.” Events like this are taking place throughout the city during the whole month.

IMAGE: Congressman John Lewis, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Mayor Rawlings-Blake

Last Saturday, I was pleased to join Congressman Elijah Cummings and featured guest Congressman John Lewis for the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Black History Month kickoff, its 26th annual Booklovers’ Breakfast. Congressman Lewis—a U.S. Representative from Georgia—has spent his life honoring our nation’s African American heritage and fighting for equality and civil rights. In fact, he is the last surviving member of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Hundreds of residents from book clubs across Baltimore attended the event, and it was an exciting reminder that great deeds are not confined to just history books.

IMAGE: Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Councilman Nick Mosby, Health Commissioner Dr Oxiris Barbot

Black History Month is also an opportunity for us to mobilize to overcome the challenges that are still far too prevalent in our communities of color. Today I joined with Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, Councilman Nick Mosby, and members of the community to recognize National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. In Baltimore City, African Americans account for 85% of all diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases. African Americans face the most severe HIV/AIDS burden of any ethnic group in the nation. This is an epidemic that disproportionately affects our black communities, and we must take action to stem the tide of new infections.

The stigma, fear, and silence associated with HIV/AIDS only serve to increase the risk of infection and decrease willingness to know one’s status. In Baltimore, no one should suffer in silence. Thanks to the leadership of the Baltimore City Health Department and partners like Total Healthcare, prevention efforts have helped to maintain stability in the overall level of HIV infections among African Americans for more than a decade, but we must pull together as a community. Get educated. Get tested. Get involved. And if you are currently living with HIV/AIDS, don’t be afraid or ashamed to get treated.

As we celebrate the heritage of our wonderfully diverse nation, let us bear in mind that our collective Baltimore story is not finished. The stories of our forebears that are recounted throughout Black History Month are a beginning. Through our continued commitment, passion, and courage, we will have many more stories to tell in years to come.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at my website or by email at You can also follow the Mayor’s Office and be a part of the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.


Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Mayor, City of Baltimore

Our Baltimore Cityscapes

IMAGE: Visitors browse the Kinsey Collection at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum

Visitors to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum browse The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley – Where Art and History Intersect. This world-class collection of art and artifacts chronicles over 400 years of African American history and culture. The collection is on display through the end of Black History Month. Photo by Mark Dennis.

Black History Month Events

National Aquarium Black History Month Celebration

Friday, February 7, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
National Aquarium, 501 E. Pratt Street

National Aquarium's Cultural Series celebrates Black History Month with an evening focused on Black History around the Chesapeake Bay region. See “Chesapeake Bay Dreaming,” an original play by the award-winning Aquarium on Wheels program. Enjoy a recreation of one of Baltimore’s legendary jazz clubs, with a cash bar available for those 21 and over. Participate in an oyster tonging demonstration or explore a photo exhibit of Black Watermen by Glen McClure and a display by the Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation. Dance to live R&B and jazz by Eugene Chapman, and enjoy dance performances by Dance Baltimore. All activities are included with general admission, which is greatly discounted thanks to the National Aquarium's Fridays After 5:00 promotion. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

60 Years After Brown: An Education in Structural Racism

Wednesday, February 19, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
University of Baltimore Angelos Law Center, 1401 N. Charles Street

In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, in partnership with University of Baltimore College of Public Affairs, hosts this panel discussion of local academicians and legal professionals on the impact of this landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, 60 years later. The evening's moderator, Judge William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr., leads a panel that includes Morgan State University Director of Urban Studies Ray Wimbush, Morgan State University Dean of Education Patricia Welch, and Educator and Civil Rights Advocate Ann Emery. To RSVP, email For more information, call 410-396-4876.

It's More Than History! Baltimore's Poet of the Piano

Friday, February 21, 12:00 noon
City Hall, 100 N. Holliday Street (Picture ID required for entry)

Join Baltimore National Heritage Area and the Office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for the latest entry in It's More Than History!—a brown bag lunch & learn series. In commemoration of Black History Month, the February lecture series theme "Joyous Noise" honors Baltimore's African American community and its contributions to music and the arts. Hear the story of Ellis Larkins, Baltimore's poet of the piano, presented by Bob Jacobson of the Baltimore Jazz Alliance.

Black History Month Clergy Appreciation Breakfast

Monday, February 24, 9:30 am
New Shiloh Baptist Church, 2100 N. Monroe Street

In honor of Black History Month, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake invites members of the clergy to join her for her Clergy Appreciation Breakfast. This year's honorees include the late Rev. Dr. Harold A. Carter, Sr., Rev. Dr. Marcus Garvey Wood, and Rev. Willie Chambers. The event is by invitation only—to request an invitation, please contact Kevin Slayton at

Lakeview Towers Black History Celebration

Tuesday, February 25, 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Lakeview Towers, 727 Druid Park Lake Drive

Join the seniors and residents of Lakeview Towers to celebrate Baltimore's black heritage. For more information, contact Dr. Larry Nunley in the Office of the Mayor at

Black History in Song

Thursday, February 27, 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Forest Park Senior Center, 4801 Liberty Heights Avenue

Forest Park Senior Center invites you to celebrate Black History Month with joyful song. Join the seniors of Forest Park Senior Center and join in songs of praise with the Forest Park Choir. For more information, contact Dr. Larry Nunley in the Office of the Mayor at

Community Bulletin

Baltimore CASH Campaign Free Tax Preparation

Twelve Baltimore CASH (Creating Assets, Savings and Hope) Campaign sites are now open to help low- to moderate-income households save during this tax season. If your 2013 income was less than $52,000 you may be eligible to have the Baltimore CASH Campaign's IRS-certified tax volunteers file your taxes for free! For more information or to make an appointment, call 410-234-8008 or visit

Baltimore CASH also offers help for students filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development in Mondawmin Mall will offer special FAFSA clinics, run by Baltimore City Public Schools college readiness specialists, on February 1, 15, 22, and March 1; 9:00 am – 12:00 noon.

The Horseshoe Legendary Academy

Developed by the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development and the Baltimore Workforce Investment Board, the two-day Horseshoe Legendary Academy will give Baltimore residents information about the Horseshoe Casino brand, hiring requirements, and career possibilities. Gain a competitive edge and receive hands-on practice with the skills necessary for successful employment with the Horseshoe Baltimore Casino. Special hiring consideration will be given to those who complete the Legendary Academy. Space is limited, so please RSVP at For more information, call 410-396-9030, visit, or email

Upcoming Affairs


February 10 – June 30, 2014
Maryland Science Center, 601 Light Street

TARGET AMERICA: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause looks at the whole story of drug abuse and the profound impact it has on us all. See the science behind drug addiction and examine the effect drug abuse has on individuals, American society, and the world. Explore the Maryland story and learn about the history and science behind law enforcement, prevention, and treatment specific to our local communities. Admission includes exhibit halls and one planetarium presentation. Images and content may be intense for small children; parental discretion advised. For more info, visit,, or call 410-545-6885.

Starting a Small, Intensive Commercial Farm for Local Markets

9-part Series: Wednesdays, January 29 – March 26
Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture, 1114 Shawan Road, Cockeysville
3-part Urban Series: Wednesdays, April 9 – 23
2640 St. Paul Street

The Baltimore Co. office of the UMD Extension is partnering with Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, Farm Alliance, and Real Food Farm to offer this informative workshop series. Get information and tools to start and operate a successful, intensive farm, focused on small-scale commercial production. Registration is required: $40 for the 9-part series, $15 for the 3-part Urban Farm series, or $50 for both. Please register at by January 27. For more information, call 410-771-1761.

Baltimore City Community Stakeholders Webinar

Thursday, February 13, 10:00 am – 11:30 am

Get the data you need to make informed decisions about your changing community, whether you’re a nonprofit, small business, or community leader. Sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods and Constituent Services, this webinar will feature the latest Census Bureau statistics about Baltimore’s immigrant and ethnic communities and show you how to effectively utilize the data and tools provided by the Census Bureau. Capacity is limited, and registration is required. For more information, contact Nesreen Khashan at 202-510-6403 or

Date Night at the National Aquarium

Saturday, February 15
National Aquarium, Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt Street

Love is not only in the air this Valentine’s Day—it’s in the water! Experience the intimate ambience of the aquarium after hours. On February 15, couples 21 and older can enjoy crowd-free exhibits, live music, desserts and other light fare, wine and beer, and a champagne toast. Throughout the evening, hear from Aquarium experts and learn fun facts about mating and love in the aquatic world. For more information, visit or call 410-576-3800.

American Craft Council Show

Friday – Sunday, February 21 – 23
Baltimore Convention Center, 1 W. Pratt Street

The American Craft Council Retail Show returns to the Baltimore Convention Center with more than 650 of the country’s top contemporary craft artists, presenting their latest handmade creations in jewelry, clothing, furniture and home décor. The Retail Show runs for three days, with a special Fridays After Five $5.00 ticket price (Friday after 5:00 pm only). This year, show-goers will enjoy two new on-site exhibitions: Make Room, Modern Design Meets Craft – Let’s Entertain and American Craft Charm Collection. For more information, visit

Fest-of-All Gala & Fashion Show

Saturday, February 22, 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Baltimore Museum of Industry, 1415 Key Highway

Beat the winter doldrums with the 7th annual Fest-of-All Gala & Fashion Show. Fest-of-All showcases the best of Federal Hill, featuring fine food & drink from the area’s great restaurants and taverns, a runway fashion show with the latest attire from local boutiques, live music, and a silent auction. Tickets are $75 in advance, $90 at the door. Proceeds from Fest-of-All benefit Federal Hill Main Street's community revitalization efforts. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

AARP Free Tax Preparation

Walk-In: Saturday, February 22, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Appointment only: Saturday, March 8, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
St. Helena Community Building, 6509 Colgate Avenue

AARP can help you file your taxes for free. All ages are welcome, but participating households must make less $100,000 annually. No appointment is necessary on February 22, but to make an appointment for March 8, or for more information, call Shirley Gregory at 410-633-6077.

Mobility/Para-Transit Driver Recruitment Fair

Friday, February 28, 10:00 am
Maryland War Memorial, 101 North Gay Street

Come learn about a hiring opportunity for Baltimore residents, brought to you by the Mayor's Office of Employment Development's Community Job Hubs. Apply for a job Veolia Transportation, providing mobility/para-transit services to the elderly, disabled, and state employees. Candidates must have a valid Maryland driver’s license with no more than 2 points and be registered with the Maryland Workforce Exchange. For more information, call 410-396-3009.