By Doni Glover, Publisher
Unapologetically Black: Doni Glover Autobiography
(BALTIMORE – June 10, 2019) – “Ground Zero” got a spiritual face lift on Saturday, as did the rest of Historic Pennsylvania Avenue. The community came together under the vision and leadership of three of Baltimore’s finest, literally: Iris Martin, Evan Anderson and Chuck Lee. These officers are often stationed at The Avenue Market, about 10 blocks south of Ground Zero or Penn-North, the epicenter of the Freddie Gray Unrest of 2015.
For the past 4 years, these officers have been holding smaller community events throughout the year, including those surrounding the Back-to-School, Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. They have been pulling together donations and money out of their own pockets to do something nice for a community battered by negative media, drug dealing, vacants, and rampant addiction.
There was not one incident, except a lady who danced the entire parade to the point of dehydration.
There were nothing but smiles and joy on the faces of all who attended. With over a dozen marching bands, I think the Arabbers and their horses and carts made this event “Official” and “Certified.”
We don’t like copies around here. Instead, we love genuine. And we love our beautiful and glorious legacy put forth decades ago when “The Avenue” was the place to be if you were African American. And despite all of the benign neglect in a 9-to-1 Democratic city where blacks are often bullied into voting for the same cast of ineffective characters, on this day something happened that only God could orchestrate.
First of all, the weather – the weather – the weather made all of the difference in the world. Secondly, the event started with and ended with prayer. Number three, we were blessed to have a centenarian lead the parade. Her name is Henrietta Harrison and the mayor of Penn-North, Kermit “KC” Carter insisted that she be present.
It was that kind of love that culminated into the greatest event this city has seen in years. The last time there was a “Cadillac Parade” was in 2010 when George Augusta Gilliam led the way. He set such a standard. I know he is proud of Saturday’s efforts.
Although she couldn’t be present, State Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam sent a healthy check that put us over the hump. Others donated, too, including the Maryland Food Bank. Words cannot express our gratitude.
The Baltimore County Corvette Club, as they do in East Baltimore every year with Bea Gaddy, came thru like the champions they are.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am so reminded of what we can do with a little effort, a little trust, a little love. It didn’t take millions of dollars of paid concern. It didn’t take for Jay Z or Beyonce to be performing. Our locals are quite talented. Always have been! (We did tell you this was on The Avenue, the mecca of Black Culture in previous decades). We start trends. It is in our DNA. On that note, Panama Band, Huli Shalone and DJ Duke brought us entertainment after the parade ended on the field at Robert C. Marshall, home of some of West Baltimore’s ‘meanest’ basketball players.
A preacher walked carrying a long cross. His name is Rev. Rodney Hudson of Ames Memorial on Baker and Carey.
Folks from across the community watched and cheered and ate and laughed. It was simply beautiful.
Marvin “Doc” Cheatham came out and gave opening words. He, like others, have been working extra hard since 2015 to change the perception of Historic West Baltimore. He insists that we are more than what we see daily on the news. He, like others who helped Saturday, knows that no one is going to fix our community except us. We can wait and wait all we want, but until we roll up our sleeves, forgive the past, and move forward – then we will stay stuck on stupid for a very long time.
Everyone who wanted to be a part was a part, even if they could not make it. Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, for instance, had a fundraiser at the time. I was told that State Senator Antonio Hayes stopped by, also.
In all, it was a magical day for a community otherwise forsaken – quite often forgotten by people who look like me …
I received a text this morning that was so cheerful: “Now that’s what you call an EPiC EVENT!! Always a great thing to see our city come together redefining the stereotype of the perception of the world. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that deep within the hurts and pains that have taken rare form in our city, we are standing tall in claiming the beauty of our town back. Continue to report awesomely educational and extremely informative news keeping the people interested and minds intrigued. Thank you for all you do. Ms Nikki Nichole Tara Royster, a dedicated Baltimore City native by way of Charlotte, NC. One love DG.”
Like our team has continually believed, just do the work; even when you think no one is paying attention, they are.
Our videographer, Jock, shared a thought later that day: “#LongSappyPostAlert: I started filming as a hobby. I originally just wanted to make some promo and highlight videos for my travel group. I wanted to tell our travel stories which we call our family reunions. I then became passionate about filming and decided to turn it into a business named Melanin Films. My goal and end game with Melanin Films is to tell OUR, Black people, stories. I want to be able to assist in changing the narrative about us. Today, I took a small step in doing that. When I attended the Black Film Festival in Miami a few years ago, I met this Brotha on the BCPD through a mutual friend. Today this Brotha gave a parade in the community he serves. He’s been coming out of his own pocket to fund this event. This parade had 11 marching bands, car clubs, horses, entertainment, free food and beverages, food giveaways, face painting for the kids and some more. Now for those of you not from Baltimore, this parade was given on Pennsylvania Ave. The parade started at the CVS, which was where the Freddie Gray Unrest was centered.”
Kudos to God and kudos to all who helped make Saturday a wonderful success, including several area businesses. To God be the glory!