Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
NewsOpinionReaders Respond

Baltimore's late, great civil rights leader

Martin Luther King Jr.

On Saturday, Feb. 2, Baltimore memorialized the Rev. Vernon N. Dobson and recognized him as a giant in the history of the local civil rights struggle ("Civil rights leader founded BUILD," Jan. 27). Testimony was given of his efforts to desegregate Gwynn Oak Park in 1963, creation of the Maryland Food Bank in 1968 and, in the 1970s, the founding of Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development. He was lauded for his work in planning the 1963 March on Washington and his marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. in 1965. His name was placed in the pantheon of those who were pre-eminent in the civil rights movement such as Walter P. Carter, Parren Mitchell, Marion Bascom, Sam Green, Wendell Phillips, Chester Wickware and Sam Daniels. He got the recognition he so rightly deserves.

I was there, too, to hear the platitudes to his fearless and tireless leadership. But I was there with my own personal memories of what it was like to be a young black child trying to make sense of those times and how I was influenced by the man my friends and I called "The Rev."

The Rev was a towering figure to me at the time; he seemed much taller then than later in life. I can still remember the tension I felt whenever he came home to find me "hanging around" his daughters and their girlfriends. His glance had the effect of disrupting my breathing pattern, which I am sure he was aware of and was amused by. I can still feel the anxiety when he came home one night, looked at me and said, "Son, this is the new rule. When I'm not here, you're not here." It was all I could do to get the "yes, sir" out of my mouth.

But more than anything I will remember how he influenced me and the youth of the community to recognize and be aware of the social dynamics of being black in Baltimore. Not that we were oblivious to it since we lived in Ashburton during those turbulent times and blacks in Ashburton during the late 1950s and 1960s were few and far between. However, he taught us dignity, courage, and the fact that we owed it to those who came and sacrificed before us to be fearless, continue to speak up for ourselves and never let anyone treat us as second class citizens.

So I was there to recognize the man as legend but to say thanks for his love and mentoring.

Rest in peace, Rev.

Tyrone Hill, Baltimore

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
    Related Content
    Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Maryland's one-party state
      Maryland's one-party state

      I ran to the convenience store this morning to pick up some milk and saw at least eight campaign signs within a quarter mile: Brown/Ulman, Elijah Cummings and — the most telling — "Vote the Democrats."

    • Loyola professor gets the math wrong
      Loyola professor gets the math wrong

      In 2014 it's hard to imagine an economist who is unaware of the concept of inflation or the Consumer Price Index. Yet letter writer and Loyala University of Maryland professor Stephen J.K. Walters still doesn't get it ("Rodricks finds the wrong villain in Ebola research...

    • Brown has lost this Democrat's vote
      Brown has lost this Democrat's vote

      I woke up on the first day of early voting in Maryland to a depressingly familiar front page headline in The Sun — "Race for governor resorts to untruths" (Oct. 23). With it came the usual mix of disgust, anger and frustration that I have felt every day of this gubernatorial...

    • Where are the third-party candidates in Md.'s governor's race?
      Where are the third-party candidates in Md.'s governor's race?

      I thought as voters we were entitled to see and hear from all of the candidates running for office. Yet in the current governor's race, others have decided for us that we need to hear only from Anthony Brown and Larry Hogan — but not the Libertarian Party candidate, Shawn Quinn.

    • Why Israel isn't rushing to fight ISIS
      Why Israel isn't rushing to fight ISIS

      Letter writer Fred Lebert asks why Israel hasn't joined the fight against ISIS ("Why isn't Israel joining the fight against ISIS?" Oct. 21).