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History of DouglassDr. Martin Luther King has...


History of Douglass

Dr. Martin Luther King has said, "We must teach each Negro child that rejection of heritage means loss of cultural roots and [that] people who have no past have no future."

Now another part of Baltimore's black history is being threatened. Our cultural heritage is being severely attacked. What is the real motivation for trying to take over Douglass High School? Why, of all the city schools with problems, attack the oldest, most prestigious historically?

What has been done through the years to Douglass to cause the present problems? One by one, programs have been weakened that would attract students (and parents) to the school -- the physical education department, the art department, the business department and recently the career music department.

Gradually it seems as though the black community around Douglass has no children being born who are intelligent and talented.

What happened to the middle schools that feed students to Douglass? These problems did not begin at Douglass. Our protests will be heard.

Barbara Leak


The writer is the president of the Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association.

Not a church issue

Thank you for your recent stories detailing the charges against former teacher John Merzbacher. The articles answered some questions, while raising a few more.

Your stories point out that Mr. Merzbacher was a Baltimore City school teacher before he taught in the Catholic schools. It would also appear that he was a city teacher for a number of years longer than he was a Catholic school teacher.

Yet, the media, and The Evening Sun in particular, insist on referring to him as "the Catholic school teacher." It also became apparent that the alleged abuse occurred while he was teaching in the city school system. Yet everyone wants to come down on the Archdiocese with an iron fist. No one dares point a finger at the city school system.

No matter how hard The Evening Sun or the public tries to make it one, this is not a "Catholic" issue. There is enough blame and fault to go around. Quit making the church a target for your innuendo.

Ric Barnett


Best news carrier

I recently met with my Baltimore Sun news carrier to tell him what a magnificent job he did by not missing a delivery during the horrid weather we've been having.

I can't recall if The Baltimore Sun has a Carrier of the Year award. If it does, I would like to place the name of Joseph J. Thorn in contention.

If the paper doesn't have such an award, it should. Such service over and beyond the call of duty deserves recognition.

Zelda Seideman


High court's clinic ruling inconsistent

Among much of the media coverage of the Supreme Court's recent decision regarding anti-abortion advocates who blockade abortion clinics, one important distinction was missing.

The unanimous decision, written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, was based upon a strict interpretation of the Racketeer Influenced, Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute.

Mr. Rehnquist made clear the limited scope of the decision when he wrote, "The questions of whether the respondents committed the requisite predicate acts, and whether the commission of these acts fell into a pattern, are not before us. We hold only that RICO contains no economic motive requirement."

The court did not rule that protesting at abortion clinics is illegal, or that abortion protesters constitute an organized pro-life "Mafia."

It ruled only that, under the RICO statute, an economic motive is not required for certain activity to be classified as racketeering.

Eva Paul, general counsel to Planned Parenthood, heralded the decision as "a great step forward for women seeking abortions."

However, what Ms. Paul and other pro-choice supporters may not realize is that, had the court applied the same strict interpretation to the Constitution, no right to abortion would ever have been found, and we would not be in our present dilemma.

Christopher Boggs

Bel Air

Guns were important to civil rights movement

February is Black History Month. Many classrooms will have special lessons on the civil rights movement. One lesson they probably won't include is the critical importance of the Second Amendment to the success of the movement.

Many of us have seen films and docudramas about the Freedom Riders being beaten in Anniston, Ala., and the siege at the nearby Montgomery church that gave refuge to the victims.

We have seen Dr. Martin Luther King on the phone to Attorney General Robert Kennedy asking for help. We've seen the people in that little church bravely singing hymns.

But Taylor Branch, in his book "Parting the Waters," reminds us that those churchgoers did more than just sing: "Some of the men who had prepared for this moment were slipping out of the pews, reaching for knives, sticks and pistols in their coat pockets."

Firearms allowed people who knew the police would not protect them to protect themselves. After Freedom Riders were beaten by a white mob in Anniston, Branch writes, "Soon, eight cars of Negro churchmen, brimming with shotguns and rifles, took off down Highway 78 to pick up the enervated but immensely grateful pacifists."

Civil rights leaders demonstrated by their actions that they believed in the fundamental right of armed self-defense.

Firearms were readily available in the home of Dr. Martin Luther King. Civil rights activist Bayard Rustin recalled his visit to Dr. King's home during the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott.

At that time, Rustin "shouted to stop someone from sitting on a loaded pistol that was lying on the couch." Other civil rights leaders were known to be personally armed at all times. E.W. Steptoe, the leader of the Amite County, Miss., NAACP never left his house unarmed.

These little-known facts deserve the attention of all Americans. The gun control lobby suggests we put all our trust in the government. They act as if official abuse of power never happens.

Imagine how Martin Luther King would have reacted to this sentiment that the government is and somehow always will be our friend.

One need not think too long as to what some Southern sheriffs might have done with a registration list of gun owners during the days of the civil rights movement. Remember that the police in Neshoba County, Miss., were proved to be conspiring with the racists who killed three civil rights workers in 1964.

The entire Bill of Rights was essential to the civil rights movement. Those who wish to disarm us today would do well to remember this important lesson: an armed citizenry is the ultimate defense against tyranny.

Larry Pratt

Springfield, Va.

The writer is the executive vice-president of the Gun Owners Foundation.

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