“March forth on March 4th”

DBFA’s education rally takes on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

By Shae McCoy

The fate of education for Baltimore City Public school students has been quite a conversation piece lately. If you are not aware, the Baltimore City Public system is facing its largest budget deficit being approximately $130 million in debt. With the debt being so high many teachers fear layoffs and with layoffs that means the teacher to classroom ratio will change. This change, of course, will not be in the favor of students nor teachers.

Many ask what Mayor Pugh and Gov. Hogan will do to alleviate this deficit and assure that teachers won’t lose their jobs and that students will still receive the best education that is available. According to the Baltimore Sun, Mayor Pugh met separately with Gov. Hogan and Senate pres. Thomas V. Mike Miller to discuss the distribution of state aid to help the deficit.

On March 4, 2017, DFBA, a non-profit that consists of parents, educators, and community activists who focus on the well-being of Baltimore families organized “March forth on March 4.”  This rally was put together to call out elected officials and challenge them to come up with a plan to rid the Baltimore public school system of their $130 million deficit. DFBA also puts the pressure on Gov. Hogan demanding him to provide funding for city schools.

During the rally there were many people who spoke. Those people included students of various schools in Baltimore City, teachers within the Baltimore school system, city officials and the concerned parents of these students. While voicing on the deficit, people chanted amongst the crowd inquiring where the mayor was. She was not in attendance and her absence disappointed a lot of parents and teachers. I got to speak briefly with Emily Card (Western High School) who has taught in Baltimore City for 8 years and  thinks  that, “This should not be something we have to fight over. This should not be an issue. This should not be a question.” She went on to say that “we shouldn’t  have schools where I don’t have heat in my classroom, or I don’t have AC, where we can’t drink the water, where teachers are buying their own supplies, and the kids are now worried  that their teachers are going to go away.” It’s  quite evident that the teacher/ student relationship is very important.  I spoke with Caroline Cook (Patterson High School) who’s in her 6th year of teaching  who says,” They deserve the best and they deserve an education without limits and they deserve to be supported and that means giving them adequate funding.” In reference to her students. 11th grader, Ashley Morris-Graham came to “support her teachers” she elaborates  by briefing on her anxiety and how her teachers have helped her through her episodes.  “Most teachers I just can’t go to if I’m having like anxiety breakdowns,” Ashley says referring to the teachers she’s built a bond with.

This rally shed light on what has been done so far, what needs to be done, and whom it will affect in the present and in the future.

To find out more about DFBA and “March forth on March 4th,”
please visit:

http://www.baltimorefamilies.org/

http://www.baltimorefamilies.org/fixthegap.html

 

Photos by Shae McCoy

2017 Oscars Recap

oscar.jpgPhoto by Byseyhania under Creative Commons license. 

Most people probably remember the accusations last year. There was a significant outcry from the American public about the alleged “whitewashing” of the 2016 Oscars. We aren’t really seeing that type of backlash in the weeks after the 2017 awards. This was probably due to a few things. First, the press and social media seem to have an unusually high amount of distractions this year.

Twitter and Facebook are still seething with election rants – fueled by celebrity comments like host Jimmy Kimmel’s zinger, “I want to say thank you to President Trump. Remember last year when the Oscars were racist? That’s gone, thanks to him.”

The mix-up of the best picture award also consumed a significant proportion of press and twitter quips. Mlive.com reported some of the more memorable tweets about the Oscar gaffe.

@kibblesmith tweeted, “Hey ‘La La Land,’ remember when you have us that fake happy ending and then took it away… How’s it feel?”
@billyeichner tweeted, “If anyone from the in memorial is still alive, please let us know”

@sethmacfarlane tweeted, “You know what the problem is… millions of Academy members voted illegally”

With all of this going on, how could shouts of racism possibly make the front page?

The other reason for the absence of racism accusations was that the stage was not filled with white folks. Probably the best example of this was when ‘La La Land,’ a predominately Caucasian group yielded the stage to ‘Moonlight,’ a predominately African American group.

When we look at the categories: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress, we find a huge difference between this year and last year. In 2016, these four categories had a total of 20 white nominees and zero black nominees in 2016. This year, there were 14 white nominees and six black nominees.

Obviously, there is not going to be as much of an outcry if the invitations are going out to races in a more proportional manner.

To be sure, people can still pick things to complain about the 2017 Oscars. CountingWomanArts twitter account noted that not a single woman has been nominated for best director in the past eight years.

One could probably argue that Caucasian women received preferential treatment over African American women as Caucasians received the majority (four out of five) Best Actress nominations while African Americans received the majority of Best Supporting Actress nominations (three out of five).

Someone somewhere is probably arguing that some degree of reverse discrimination occurred in the 2017 Oscars because of the 2016 outcry – in an effort to maintain good publicity.

The Oscars is always going to be yelled at for something and be accused of the vilest atrocities by someone sitting behind a computer. In 2016, it was racism. In 2017, it was logistical and technical failure. Seems to be a good trend.

To live the way we do

Maryland’s big decision for clean energy

Just last February, Maryland lawmakers enacted the Clean Energy Jobs Act; this particular legislation will increase our state’s renewable energy goals by charging Maryland taxpayers just under an extra 60 cents a month for clean, renewable energy. This bill will ensure that Maryland will get 25% of its electricity from wind turbines, solar panels, and hydroelectric dams. Maryland lawmakers have been heavily divided on this bill; should they be charging extra for energy or not?

While it is safe to say that we want our planet to remain healthy enough for us to live on, many politicians struggle to place the price of planet Earth and what it takes to maintain it. 62nd Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, initially vetoed the legislation in the weeks prior to being overturned, stating “I vetoed legislation that would place yet another burden on ratepayers and taxpayers; it will be an additional charge on your energy bill each month to pay for overly expensive solar and wind energy credits, the majority of which are created by companies outside of Maryland” on his Facebook page last month.

Almost immediately after the veto, the Maryland Climate Coalition rallied against it, listing off reasons why Maryland needed to be more supportive of combatting climate change, citing better health, higher productivity, more jobs, and improving reliability. Many Marylanders believed in this cause, so it was only inevitable that Hogan’s veto would be overturned. CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Tom Kiernan, has since applauded the final decision of Maryland lawmakers, stating “making the Clean Energy Jobs Act law is the right decision for Maryland. Renewable energy legislation is pro-growth, pro-business, and means access to more jobs in Maryland…From the Free State’s population-hubs to its majestic shores, this ensures more low-cost, homegrown American wind power reaches homeowners and businesses.”

It was difficult for lawmakers supporting the veto to come up with any true downsides other than the fact that Maryland citizens will be paying a little more on their energy bills and the fact that these renewable energy installations look aesthetically unappealing and take up space on farm lands and potential construction areas for shopping centers or office buildings. Statements in support of more infrastructure only brought about statements insisting that Maryland and the planet are more important than any new government building.

According to the AWEA, there are currently more than 50,000 utility-scale wind turbines in the United States, and there are over 100,000 people employed to perform wind related jobs. The state of Maryland is currently producing about 200 megawatts of wind energy, the country total being 82,183 MW. By increasing our state’s renewable portfolio standard to 25% by 2020 these numbers are predicted to increase, not only when it comes to wind energy, but in all other forms of energy as well.

It is a commonly known fact that natural resources created by the earth are easily attainable; the planet will always be producing water, wind, and receiving light from the sun, these sources are not going anywhere as long as we take care of our planet. Though Maryland is a small state it will be contributing to the vital cause of repairing the planet; so many people gathered to support the Clean Energy Jobs Act, inspiring to promote change in their own neighborhoods by cleaning up their streets and being more conservative with their energy.

People will do many things as long as they know it will benefit themselves. While that natural human instinct isn’t always the most favorable one, when we acknowledge that the planet’s health affects our own lives, people have a tendency to help it more. Tell a person to recycle their water bottle in a cafeteria and they will do it; tell someone to turn the lights out when they leave a room, they’ll do it. They will do it because there is truly no valid reason why they should not.

Really? The government got hacked again?

hack_EDITEDPhoto by Prayinito under Creative Commons license. 

Another government intelligence agency just got hacked, again, and a plethora of the government’s cherished information has now been published on the internet. This time, instead of an ex-government contractor revealing NSA data collection practices, WikiLeaks, a multi-national media organization, exposed the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) surveillance secrets.

WikiLeaks claims that malware for smart phones and smart televisions are created by the Engineering Development Group (EDG), a software development group in one of the CIA’s five major directorates. WikiLeaks explains that another branch of the CIA, the Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), was responsible for building “Weeping Angel.” The program was built with help from the UK and was specifically built to target smart TVs by infesting them with a program that places the TV in a “fake off” mode. The “fake off” mode gives the CIA the ability to use the smart TVs as a microphone while the TV appears to be turned off, recording all the conversations in the room. If that’s not already creepy enough, the CIA’s Mobile Device Branch (MDB) has developed the technology to infect cell phones with malware that gives the CIA the ability to secretly access the user’s camera and microphone.

I guess hacking into cell phones could give the CIA more information about terrorists and other foreign threats, but how does hacking into smart TVs protect people from foreign threats? I can’t imagine that terrorists gather around smart TVs watching Netflix, but one thing is certain is that the release of the CIA’s surveillance practices creates questions about the ethics and effectiveness of government surveillance. Should the government be spying on its own citizens? And, do the government’s questionable activities actually protect us from foreign threats?

After interviewing a few University of Baltimore (UB) students I learned that some students believe that the government should continue its surveillance programs as long as the programs actually protect people from security threats. However, a few UB students questioned if the government really needs to collect all of this information just to protect Americans from foreign threats.

Ketki Chavana, an industrial and organizational psychology student, said that she understands that the government is doing the surveillance programs to keep people safe. However, she found the governments bulk data collection activities to be unsettling, explaining that these programs could be a “violation of freedom and personal space” and that “better regulations should be made [for government surveillance programs].” Another UB student, Alontaye, explained that national security could be a cop-out term to excuse the government’s cloak-and-dagger behavior. UB student Alexandra Friend said that the government’s surveillance programs are fine as long as they actually improve national security.

Overall, students agree that the government’s surveillance activities can infringe on people’s freedoms and I’m sure many people would agree with Chavana’s suggestion about increased regulations. However, it’s tough to know how regulations could be used to protect people from government surveillance, since the government surveillance through technology is, in regards to law, uncharted territory. But we can say for certain that the CIA should be more aware of groups attempting to hack into their systems and the CIA should take better measures to protect against hacking, especially if they’re holding millions of Americans’ information.

Baltimore History Live!

UB History Alive in Archives

UB Associate Professor of History Nicole Hudgins begins a series of history-related interviews exclusively for the UB Post. The series will feature men and women whose personal or professional lives can help us learn more about the Baltimore area’s fascinating history. Here, the first interview in our series, UB Archivist Aiden Faust answers questions about our campus history, UB’s special collections of local history, and the importance of preserving our archives.

faust1_EDITED_COLOR.jpgAiden Faust is the archivist at UB.
Photo by Nicole Hudgins

Nicole Hudgins: This afternoon I was leafing through the first UB yearbook [The Reporter ran from 1928 to 1974].  Have you ever looked at it?

Aiden Faust: Yes, although the copy I’ve used is the online version, which is part of Langsdale Library’s digital collections.

NH: Yea- I’m looking at the digitized version, too (of course!).  It’s striking to me how un-diverse the students and faculty were back then.  Progress is so “relative,” I guess, in the sense that, at the time, UB was striking out into new territory by providing higher ed for adults at night (albeit 99% white men). As a historian, I… know that back in the 1920s a woman had to be very self-confident to pursue a law or business degree, since middle-class girls were expected to devote themselves to marriage and motherhood.  For Americans of color, even more so… there was the understanding that such paths were “not for them…”

AF: Yes. I’m looking at the “University of Baltimore” book published by Tom Hollowak in the Arcadia “College History Series” in 2000. A photograph of the 1929 freshman class of the evening School of Business shows a class of 29 students; of those, 4 are women. By 1978, the University opened a Women’s Program in Management, which offered both a certificate program and an MBA degree. But there’s half a century that passed between those two dates!

NH: Progress was slow but it accumulated over time. Young students sometimes don’t realize, or forget, that the right to pursue a profession was a long, hard-won fight for anyone who didn’t look like those 1929 freshmen. The Reporter yearbooks expose the American social climate in black and white.  I’m really intrigued by UB’s history stretching back to the 1920s. Can you offer any “secret” bits of history that UB folks don’t know but should? The University actually lived through a lot of American history!

AF: My area of specialization is the Baltimore Regional Studies Archives—our expert on the University Archives, which contains the institutional records and history of UB, is my colleague, Fatemeh Rezaei. That said, there are many places where Baltimore history and UB history overlap in the archives. One example is BRISC, the Baltimore Region Institutional Studies Center. BRISC was an archive run by a UB urban sociology professor named Ted Durr. Dr. Durr’s vision of Baltimore records being used across academic disciplines and open to the public made him a leader in the archival community—not just locally, but nationally. With his associates, he developed an early software program called ARCHON to describe BRISC’s records and make them searchable. Although BRISC was forced to shut down during the Reagan-era funding cuts of the 1980s, the majority of the archival collections were transferred to Langsdale Library, and today comprise the core of the Baltimore Regional Studies Archives in Special Collections. So, that’s my bit of “secret” UB history, I guess. I wrote a short library blog post about it a few years ago, which includes a great audio interview with Mr. Durr.

NH: What sorts of interesting things would we find in BRISC, for example?  You had sent me a grant opportunity for students to study structural inequality in the region [http://archives.ubalt.edu/fellowship/llsc_fellow_info_2017.pdf]. Is there anything in BRISC that could provide someone with research project material?

AF:  BRISC documented what I’d describe as institutions of American liberalism—organizations concerned with things like education, health care, housing, social welfare…  Some examples of our collections that are representative of BRISC’s mission are: the Planned Parenthood of Maryland Records, the Greater Baltimore Committee Records, the Health and Welfare Council of Maryland Records, the League of Women Voters for Baltimore City Records, and the Maryland Churches United Records.

NH: I get the sense that inconsistent funding leads to many archival projects ending up at loose ends.  Archivists have to prioritize and make tough decisions.

AF: BRISC, like many other archival programs, relied on external grant funding to operate. This doomed its operations when government support for cultural heritage, arts, and humanities waned. Archivists must be able to advocate for their records programs to build strong bases of support within their parent institutions. Sustainable archives cannot depend upon grant monies to perform core programmatic functions. That said, grant funding does allow archivists to accomplish projects that add value to their programs, like digital projects, conservation treatments, environmental controls, events and programming, and increased online access. Institutional support for core functions and grant support for innovative projects are both essential.

NH: Have you ever run into anything down in the archives that really surprised you?

AF: I was really impressed with oral history interviews in the Baltimore Voices Company Records.  When I first started at UB [2008], I was working on a project to digitize the original cassette tapes of those interviews.  The process of transferring the audio is done in real-time, so I’d hear the audio as it was being converted to digital.  I was surprised to hear high-quality conversations documenting the experiences of steel, auto, and garment factory workers. Labor history is a major part of Baltimore history, but local archival sources for labor history can be hard to find. I was very pleased to see we had more documentation of workers’ experiences in the Baltimore Voices Company collection than I realized.

NH: Absolutely. Years ago when I started at UB [2009] I took a trip to the Museum of Industry and was totally floored by the reality that Baltimore, and Baltimoreans, used to make stuff! The capital industries that you mentioned, but also dozens of smaller concerns making umbrellas, bottle caps, food processing, and the like.  Like many U.S. cities, Baltimore is still in the process of reinventing itself now that industry is mostly gone.

AF: The Baltimore Museum of Industry is a great example of one of Baltimore’s cultural heritage institutions that runs an archival program.  It’s critical that local archivists work together to document history through archival collections.  In the professional literature, this is known as cooperative collecting, and it’s done through communication and developing policies at our individual institutions that acknowledge the collecting scopes of other local archives.  This is an area I’m working on right now, and our department’s collection development policy acknowledges both our collection focus, the overlap we have with other programs locally, and our commitment to working together.

NH: What would you consider to be some of the “treasures” in UB’s special collections?

AF: The Baltimore Neighborhood Heritage Project was a public history project conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Those interviews are definitely a treasure for social historians.  I also consider the collection of local photographer Robert Breck Chapman to be a crucial documentary resource.  Breck started his photo career in Baltimore City with Great Society anti-poverty programs in the 1960s, and he worked his way through the Department of Housing and the Mayor’s Office under Kurt Schmoke.  But there are so many strong, important collections here—the YMCA collection, the Citizens Planning and Housing Association collection, the Empower Baltimore Management Corporation collection, the Walter Sondheim papers, the Chester L. Wickwire papers… I could go on and on.

NH: Yes—the Baltimore Neighborhood Heritage Project, although it has some frustrating gaps in the transcriptions, offers a peek into Baltimore as a city of immigrants and immigrants’ children. In the past, I had my students gather information from those interviews connecting Baltimore neighborhoods to European history (Poland, Ireland, Germany, etc.).  The course that all history majors take, “The Historian’s Toolkit,” taught by Dr. Nix, asks students to dig into their own ancestry in order to situate their families in a larger history.  Students are surprised by what they can find in the local archives!

NH: Do you ever get documentary filmmakers or PBS coming to SC for photographs or film?

AF: Our moving image collections get a lot of use by filmmakers and documentarians of all varieties.  Photographs are most often used by researchers publishing books, although we had an independent record label request an image for a record cover recently!

NH: Can you give an example of one of the films in the collection getting used in a documentary?

AF: Actually, Special Collections maintains a list of books, films, and other resources created using archival material from our collections.

One example from this list is “All the King’s Horses: The Story of Gwynn Oak Amusement Park,” a documentary film made by longtime WJZ-TV cameraman, Pete O’Neal. Mr. O’Neal used news footage from the WMAR-TV film collection in Special Collections to tell the story of the desegregation of a local amusement park. The carousel that sits on the National Mall outside the Smithsonian is actually from Gwynn Oak Park.

NH: Working amongst those materials, I would nominate you as someone who has a broader perspective on our institution.  Based on what you see, what do you perceive as UB’s most enduring identity?  Its mission for Baltimore?

AF: The University of Baltimore is Baltimore’s University! Our school is an important part of the city, and our programs help meet the needs of the city and its residents.  Special Collections reflects that vital connection between the city and the University.  I love running a public archives about the history of modern Baltimore, right here in the heart of midtown.  Our work with the UB campus, local community researchers, and guest scholars from around the world helps put UB on the map as a research destination.  It also helps build and share knowledge about Baltimore that connects local history to broader historical narratives of national significance.

NH: Very nice.  Maybe we need a Baltimore Studies program?

AF: Yes! Our archives do a good job of documenting local institutions, as well as some neighborhoods and protest organizations. But I would still like to see the lives of more people, as well as grassroots groups and social movements, added into our archives.

NH: In large part, my love for the historical profession comes from encountering these lives tucked away in the archive—men and women who struggled and vanished but left a trace for us to see!  I always sort of wonder to myself:  a hundred years from now, will anyone discover that I existed?  You and your colleagues in Special Collections play an important role in saving Baltimore lives from oblivion.

AF: Archival programs will continue to evolve over time, with new materials and new interpretations of existing collections, in order to remain relevant.  Our job is to keep these programs sustainable for the duration.

NH: Thanks for sharing your knowledge today, Aiden, and letting us get to know Special Collections better.

AF:  Thanks for asking good questions!  I always love to talk about the collections.

Pages from “The Reporter,” a UB yearbook that ran from 1928–1974.
Images from the Special Collections Archive at UB

Surviving Life: Chapter Seven

chapter 7_EDITED

Our group had gathered within the storage room of the grocery store. The bearded man had introduced himself as Carter, the owner. Carter’s group consisted of twenty people, including his pregnant daughter, Bethany, and her husband Nate. “I can’t believe it,” Carter sighed in disbelief, shoving his hands into his pockets and pacing back and forth.

“We couldn’t either, our pilot declared engine failure and a few minutes later we were on the ground.” Xavier told our host his story, “And then we were saved by this friendly passerby.” He turned and gave me a thankful smile, new hope appeared in his eyes.

The amount of hope that filled this room now was unimaginable. When Lauren and I first entered by ourselves, Carter’s group was silent and dismal. But when the others finally came in, they were overjoyed at the possibility that other people had survived this nuclear ordeal. I was always amazed at how happy people became when they were reunited with other humans.

Bethany sat on a large sack of flour, rubbing her large belly, having an in-depth discussion about space travel with Ryan. His youthful imagination brought smiles to the faces of Carter’s survivors, whether they be false smiles or true, they were necessities.

“What happened before the explosion? Was there a warning?” I asked Carter after taking a sip of the coffee he had given me.

He shook his head, “Barely, the war sirens went off for about five minutes. I called out to the customers over the intercom to make their way to the back of the store.” He nodded his head back at Bethany, “My daughter was here, she works here, but Nate wasn’t.”

I looked over at Nate, who was now standing with his hand on his wife’s shoulder, also listening to Ryan intently. “He wasn’t?”

Carter shook his head again, “No, he works about five miles away, at his restaurant. He was on his way here when the sirens started and he somehow managed to make it.” He chuckled, “The boy’s a determined little guy.”

I continued staring at Nate, he was now laughing at something Ryan said. There was no way he could have survived out there. I smiled and nodded at Carter, “Thank you for the coffee.”

A pile of paper towels sitting stacked against the wall was calling to me; I went over to took a seat. I took a deep breath and sat down. The mystery of Nate’s survival was bothering me. There was just no way he could have survived out in the open.

“Hey,” Lauren broke me from my thoughts. “Are you alright?”

I nodded, “Yeah, just reflecting. Trying to come up with a plan.” I looked around the room again, “This place isn’t big enough for thirty people to survive.” I acknowledged Bethany. “Thirty one.”

Lauren made a sound of agreement, “Well…I guess we’ll figure it out as we go along.” She smiled, her glasses rising with her cheeks.

“That sounds like it will work for now.” I put my head back, “Maybe we’ll be able to find somewhere underground within the next few days.”

She sighed, “I sure am going to miss the sunlight.”