Baltimore's Strangely Positive Week
From The ODA Blog
BALTIMORE -- From the death of Freddie Gray on Sunday morning to the arrest of six Baltimore police officers on Friday afternoon, this has been some week in Charm City. When the streets erupted in anger on Monday night, there was widespread concern that the city might go up in flames. Immediate comparisons were made to the King riots of April 1968. The Orioles played in front of an empty Camden Yards on Wednesday and then got out of town to Tampa. The national media descended on the city with cameras rolling and microphones sizzling. In our highly-divided America, the stage was set for a meltdown of historic proportions.
And, then, the strangest thing happened -- the city stepped up big! Its leaders led and its people followed. Its preachers prayed and its orchestra played. Its children went back to school and its businesses went back to work. Most importantly, its citizens loved on the city. They marched in peace while shouting with passion and urgency. It's been said all week by the pundit class that Baltimore is a "real city" with caring people and vibrant neighborhoods. We didn't need NBC and CNN to tell us that, but we'll take it as a compliment. Because it's true.
In truth, we shouldn't be surprised by Baltimore's resiliency and stamina during the last week of April '15. Those traits have been there all along. And though we're not out of the woods yet, there is ample cause to be positive about the city's next few chapters. The city made famous by Francis Scott Key, Frederick Douglas, Johns Hopkins, H.L. Mencken, Thurgood Marshall and Johnny Unitas, is the same proud city that found its footing again on the 1st of May. What ails Baltimore is a national illness borne of too few jobs and too much poverty. Those conditions are not unique to the city on the Chesapeake.
But, if America's next wake-up call had to start somewhere, it picked the right town. Just as the HBO show The Wire came to represent American urban blight in 2002, so too can the Freddie Gray story reach far beyond the macadam and streetlights of North and Pennsylvania Avenues. Baltimore was born in 1729 for moments just such as these. Its Old Otterbein United Methodist Church near Oriole Park has tolled its bell on every day of national consequence since 1771. Let's hope it tolls tonight.
Not everything is settled and not everyone performed magnificently. There is plenty of room for criticism and second-guessing. But don't get caught in the age-old trap of perfection being the enemy of the good. In the last six days, Baltimore has answered the call on most fronts and risen to the occasion in many important ways. As we close out, there were two images that really mattered to us this week: the "average man" sweeping up his street under the protective watch of the Maryland State Police and the young State's Attorney, Marilyn J. Mosby, confidently addressing the city and nation at the end of the week. Both individuals represent what's good and right about Baltimore. Both deserve our respect and appreciation. Here's hoping that Baltimore continues to show the way.
Open Door Baltimore, a nonprofit that fights poverty by working with businesses to provide living-wage jobs, is expanding beyond the beltway. To better reflect the organization’s larger mission, the board of directors recently approved a new identity and logo.Read More