TGR: Cab Calloway’s Grandson: Preserving History or Self-Aggrandizing Carpetbagger? Pt. 1

Photo: A typical community meeting at Druid Heights CDC draws dozens of proud community members and has done so regularly for nearly 40 years.

By Doni Glover, Publisher
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Unapologetically Black: Doni Glover Autobiography

(BALTIMORE – July 2, 2019) – Back in 1996 during my final year of undergraduate work at then-Coppin State College, the media department hired Professor Peter Brooks as a replacement for Professor Ronn Nichols, who had moved on. Those were no easy shoes to fill as the students, generally speaking, loved Nichols to no end. He was smart, he was creative and – not saying the man was Jesus the Christ – he loved his media students and wanted the absolute best for us. I should add that he was a history buff who made it his personal mission to reiterate to us our distinct obligation as future African American media professionals.

Brooks was touted as Cab Calloway’s grandson and had, if I’m not mistaken, experience from attending film school at Columbia. To boot, his mother, Camay Murphy, was well-known for her efforts at the Eubie Blake Cultural Center on North Howard Street.

Since the mid-90s, I may have heard from Professor Brooks once or twice on Facebook. He had been, over the years, a strong proponent of Indigenous American culture and often spoke about his work on reservations.

In all, Brooks came off as a decent person. While students did not gravitate to him as they did Nichols, hey, we were just glad to have a media professor on our final leg of our collegiate studies.

Fast forward to 2019: I was at my home in Sandtown and there was a knock at the door. This was about 4 weeks ago. Brooks and another man came to my humble abode and were discussing saving Cab Calloway’s home in a neighboring community, Druid Heights. Mind you, I haven’t seen Brooks in years.

Anyone familiar with Druid Heights knows that their Druid Heights Community Development Corporation (DHCDC) is the crown jewel of urban revitalization in Baltimore. While I had the opportunity to work in Sandtown-Winchester (at the time, it was given a lot of attention by then-Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and the Enterprise Foundation), one thing I noticed is that unlike Sandtown’s efforts, DHCDC had a much better idea of how to usher community-led urban revitalization.

Since then, Sandtown’s revitalization efforts came to a standstill, especially with the city being led by the infamous Martin O’Malley, the Montgomery County lad who seemingly had utter disdain for any African Americans who stood up against his clueless efforts to improve Baltimore. On the other hand, DHCDC is still thriving years later, still building, and still garnering much-deserved attention.

At present, DHCDC is building brand new houses at Pennsylvania and Baker. Anyone who knows Baltimore knows that DHCDC’s efforts are highly commendable and worthy of praise. In fact, it is the only work currently being produced in an otherwise forsaken piece of Historic West Baltimore – in a majority African American city with a cornucopia of black elected officials.

So, when Brooks mentioned saving his grandfather’s house out of the clear blue, I immediately pointed him to DHCDC. It made perfect sense to me. If you want to do some work in a community, then go and find the people who have been doing improvements there for nearly 40 years. Makes sense, right?

Well, not to Peter Brooks. Brooks had his own ideas, and thus far, they have inflamed the community and its leaders. Hence, while several news stories have been generated both locally and nationally, Bmorenews.com has dug beneath the surface to find out the truth. To say the least, we have a lot of questions. For instance, why is Brooks so hell-bent on saving his grandfather’s childhood home now after all these years – when he must of been familiar with it when he worked at Coppin in the mid-90s?

Stay-tuned to Bmorenews.com, the news before the news where we uncover the truth!   

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