Monday, March 28, 2022

Willing to Learn


I cannot begin to describe my gratitude this morning that the Academy Awards are not a local story. 

Also: I’m not particularly fond of Mondays.


Straight from the pages of this morning’s Baltimore Sun, two pieces that made me think. Sometimes I see connections where others might not necessarily see them. Today may be one of those days. The first piece is:

‘Lynching is local, and that’s why reconciliation has to be local, too’  Three Hartford County Lynching victims remembered with soil collection ceremony, Jason Fontelieu

And the second:

Velma B. Evans - City public schools educator, associate professor at Delaware State University was an inspiration to students, teachers alike, Frederick N. Rassmussen

This is what stood out to me in the first article: 

Dr. Charles Chavis, vice chairman of the [Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation] commission, also noted the importance of continuing to have these conversations and acknowledging the state’s past indiscretions.

“It doesn’t weaken our democracy by telling these stories; it strengthens our democracy,” Chavis said.

We’ve been hearing a quite a lot these days from people who want to silence these stories. I think they are wrong. And I agree with Dr. Chavis that learning the truth about our history strengthens our democracy. That’s why I have followed the work of Marlena Jareaux, the EC Black History Roundtable, and Howard County Lynching Truth and Reconciliation with such interest. Our community must learn and learn from its history in a way that prompts us to be better and do better. 

About Velma Branch Evans, whose life is carefully detailed by veteran Sun journalist Rasmussen, one sentence leapt out at me.

She obtained a Master’s degree in 1957 from Columbia University at a time when African Americans were not allowed to attend graduate school in Maryland. 

1957 was not that long ago, and the state of Maryland could not bring itself to make graduate education open to all its citizens. If you read the piece you’ll see that taxpayer money was used to send Black students out of state rather than allow them to learn side by side with whites as equals. Ms. Evans gave so much more back to the state of Maryland in a lifetime of teaching than Maryland was willing to give to her.

These are our stories, in Maryland and right here in Howard County. Sometimes they make me sad, and angry, and uncomfortable. But I am grateful for what they have to teach me.

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