City Forever

“Where did you go to high school?” one Baltimore native often asks another.

I went to City College, as many of you know.

Yesterday, I went to the school’s annual Hall of Fame ceremony.

I was inducted a dozen years ago. That earned me a seat on the stage.

Class banners were hung on the walls of the auditorium.

The 1954 banner caught my eye. That was the year that Brown v. Board of Education was decided.

Thurgood Marshall argued that case. If Baltimore’s schools were not segregated when he was a student, I said to myself, he would have gone to City.

The first women graduates walked across the stage in 1978.

Carnitra White ‘87, one of this year’s inductees, is now the Executive Director of the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services.

Before the ceremony, she reminded me that we had worked together on social welfare issues over the years.

When she gave her speech, she asked the students if, like her, they were having trouble in Chemistry.

The response was nearly unanimous.

“Like myself, are you from a single-parent family?” she continued.

Nearly half the students responded.

I’m going to call Director White on Monday to discuss what effect that may or may not have on their education.

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I left the ceremony shortly before it ended to meet a friend for lunch.

My car was parked near the main entrance to the school.

The doors were wide open. I could hear the school song.

I walked back inside and stood in the back of the auditorium.

“City Forever, we’ll praise her to the skies. “

It was amazing!

Orioles Fans and Classmates

I was walking to the Orioles game on Greene Street last night. Nothing blog worthy about that.

But then someone said, “City College.”

“What year?” I responded.

“’68,” he said.

We were classmates.

Both of us have worked in state government. Tom in Parole and Probation.

He spoke positively of the Math and English departments at City.

As we approached Camden Yards, he told me that he has myeloma but has benefitted from stem cell research.

I told Tom that of all of the bills I’ve worked on, the one creating the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund could touch the lives of more people than anything else I’ll do.

I wished him the best. As we parted, we both said, “City forever.”

PS I just co-signed a letter to Governor Hogan asking him to increase funding for stem cell research. A portion of this increase would support discovery research.

I’m going to add this story in a PS.

 

 

July 4 – Jefferson and Yogi

I was honored again to read from the Declaration of Independence at the start of the Roland Park 4th of July parade.

Unlike years past, there was no sound system this morning. Before I read from the Declaration, I said:

Thomas Jefferson did not have a microphone in 1776.  Neither did his colleagues who, in Ben Franklin’s phrase, hung together instead of hanging separately.  They had the power of Jefferson’s words. 

At lunchtime, I was waiting to be seated at Wicked Sisters in Hampden. One of the other people in line recognized me.

He had served as a page in Annapolis. He was a senior at City College then; he’s completed his junior year at Harvard.

“The best response I heard during floor debate was yours,” he said. “Someone on the other side quoted Yogi Berra, and you replied by quoting him as well.”

“I don’t remember it specifically,” I told him, “but my colleague could have said, ‘It’s not over until it’s over,’ and I said, ‘It gets late early.’”

Happy 4th!

Access to justice and opportunity

Frank Robinson left spring training early in 1966, his first year with the Orioles.

He needed to find a place to live. No one would rent to him in segregated Baltimore.

I spoke about that at a meeting of the Access to Justice Commission this morning.

In 1966, I was a student at City College. So was another speaker this morning, Congressman Elijah Cummings.

City College, I said, was our access to opportunity.

My access to justice bill this session would provide legal counsel on a pilot basis in a child custody case or for either party in a protective order proceeding resulting from domestic violence.

My access to opportunity bill would provide scholarship money for low-income students attending four-year colleges.

More on Frank Robinson http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/bs-sp-frank-robinson-housing-0124-20160122-story.html

Our accomplishment is a lot

“We are not here long, but our accomplishment is a lot,” declared a speaker before the dinner.

I have gone to countless community meetings, religious services, and synagogue banquets over the last 30+ years.

Last night, for the first time, I went to the annual dinner of the Ohr Hamizrach Congregation, the religious home of approximately 200 Jewish families who fled Iran after the fall of the Shah.

“My family got a phone call telling us the police would soon be at our home,” recalled one congregant during the cocktail hour.  “We took jeeps to the mountains, then camels, and fled to Pakistan.  Then to London and Baltimore.”

I drove past City College this morning.

The tower was impressive amidst the fog.

So is the teaching that takes place inside that building, I said to myself, as it has for immigrants, their offspring, and African-Americans who were equals in an integrated setting there for the first time in their lives.

  • My Key Issues:

  • Pimlico and The Preakness
  • Our Neighborhoods
  • Pre-Kindergarten
  • Lead Paint Poisoning