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Introducing The Baltimore Sun’s 25 Black Marylanders to Watch 2022 (plus 5 Living Legends)

Welcome to The Baltimore Sun’s 25 Black Marylanders to Watch. To celebrate Black History Month, we’ve assembled a group of people whose fortitude, leadership, artistry and efforts to uplift Baltimore and the state of Maryland make them worth watching.

In addition to these 25 on the rise, we’re naming five Living Legends, people who are still doing the work but who have been at the top of their game for some time.

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To come up with this list of talented changemakers, we surveyed our newsroom, not only for nominations of those who demand our attention, but for people who’ve devoted their lives to making a difference.

Adam Abadir, Deputy Director of State Affairs at the Mayor's office. This is for the Black History Month section coming out in Feb.

Some we’ve honored before. Erricka Bridgeford, the co-founder of Baltimore Ceasefire 365, was The Sun’s Marylander of the Year in 2017. Others have not been written about as extensively, but deserve more of the spotlight. Since it’s our first time doing this, we had many people to choose from and struggled to pick just 25. We expect others to be recognized in the future.

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Each profile serves as not only an introduction to the person but as a catalog of endeavors undertaken, often with a spirit of justice and equity. Similar to our Black History Month coverage last year, where we highlighted how Marylanders were making changes in the wake of the racial reckoning following the police murder of George Floyd, this year we wanted a mix of names you know and those you may not be as familiar with.

Sister Magdala Marie of the Oblate Sisters of Providence has devoted much of her life to honoring and trying to get Mother Mary Lange, the nun who established the first Catholic school for African American girls in America and the first successful religious order for Black Catholic sisters in the world, made a saint. Franklyn Baker, president and CEO of United Way Central Maryland, has been trying to change the fabric of Baltimore for the better since he joined the organization in 2016. Fagan Harris, president and CEO of Baltimore Corps, promotes service and equity in a city that sorely needs it.

Shelonda Stokes, president of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, stands witrh a view of downtown Baltimore in the background Thursday., Jan. 20, 2022. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)

As part of this initiative, The Sun is partnering with Loyola University’s Karson Institute for Race, Peace, & Social Justice, to present a series of virtual conversations with three of the 30 people profiled and Kamau High, The Sun’s diversity, equity and inclusion editor.

Feb. 9′s event will be with Jacqueline “Jackie” Copeland, chairwoman of the Maryland State Arts Council; Feb. 16′s discussion will be with Martha S. Jones, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University whose 2020 research unveiled the school’s namesake, Johns Hopkins, had enslaved people in his household. Feb. 23 will feature the Rev. Heber Brown, who has been at the forefront of social activism in Baltimore for nearly 20 years.

To watch the conversations live go to https://loyola.zoom.us/j/2098389461. Also, the recorded conversations will be later broadcast on Dr. Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead’s show on WEAA-FM, “Today with Dr. Kaye.” Whitehead is the founding director of the institute.


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