Collecting local black photo history
Three cheers for The Evening Sun editorial, "Missing black history," April 15, calling for "a systematic collection" of local African-American photographic material.
Those of us who work with historical collections, especially photographs, know too well how easily visual records of past generations slip through our hands and are then lost to posterity.
Among the Baltimore City Life Museums' extensive holdings are some excellent collections of African-American material.
For instance, Paul S. Henderson, one-time Afro photographer who died in 1988, left us several thousand images depicting Baltimore's African-American community between the 1940s and 1960s. Are our collections comprehensive? Hardly.
Will they continue to grow, thus helping us to better represent African-American life in Baltimore through exhibits, programs and publications?
Yes, but not without the assistance and trust of the community and its many keepers of community memory who already collect and preserve much of the material culture of African-American life in Baltimore.
Together we can build a more complete record of the past that can be examined and appreciated by our children and our children's children.
The writers are, respectively, curator of local history and museum reference center supervisor at the City Life Museums.
Huzzah for Uhuru
The election process unfolding in South Africa is a marvelous and remarkable testimony to the staying power and resilience of Nelson Mandela and over 25 million black South Africans, given the execrable, dehumanizing and abominable practice of apartheid, determined to vote for majoritarian governance.
It, too, is heartening that President Frederick de Klerk and a small coterie of white South Africans supported the ineluctable movement for open and free elections. A new day, to be sure, has come to South Africa.
It is to the immense credit of millions of nameless and faceless black South Africans, given the focus of the media on prominent political luminaries in South Africa, that they never lost faith in Nelson Mandela and the cause of Uhuru (i.e., freedom) in their indigenous land.
The irrepressible and chainless mind of Mr. Mandela, even after 27 years of ignominious, atavistic and cruel imprisonment, served as the unifying force and catalyst for Africans, black and white, in ushering in a new era for South Africa.
As I think of the socio-economic, educational and political transformation of South Africa after over a half-century of truculence and violence and the towering human possibilities wrought by the ballot, it evokes thoughts that "lie too deep for human tears."
The profound and long overdue change in South Africa, rich in promise for all South Africans, merits a grand and unlimited huzzah.
Samuel L. Banks
The Clinton administration's welfare reform proposal is more a cleverly disguised aid to business interests than a helping hand for welfare recipients.
Under the proposal, the government will pick up job training and health care costs for people on welfare enrolled in such mandatory programs.
In effect, this is using public money to underwrite and subsidize the poverty of low wage and low skilled workers, for whom employers will now not have to bother to pay health benefits or incur the costs of training.
Where are the protests about this sort of handout?
Abusing anti-substance programs
The safety interest of the prom season is truly in need of refocusing. For years, Students Against Driving Drunk, the Baltimore County Office of Substance Abuse and concerned parents have devoted the period of time surrounding the prom season to encouraging students to remain alcohol- and drug-free.
As an added way of advocating sobriety during the entire prom season, various programs were developed, such as local Fox TV channel 45's Operation Prom and the Nationwide Insurance Prom Promise Program.
The purpose of such programs is to have students sign contracts or make promises to remain safe and sober on prom night.
Upon signing such contracts, students receive hats, pens or key chains with logos by numerous sponsoring companies, which undoubtedly benefit from the advertising gained by such items.
Schools with the best participation in these programs are rewarded with prizes, boat rides and parties.
Unfortunately, rather than rewarding students who have chosen to sign the pledge, these prizes have become the sole reason the contracts are being signed.
Students who have no intention of keeping the alcohol- and drug-free pledge are signing to get their pen or hat and to make themselves eligible to receive any other prizes.
The entire purpose of these safe and sober prom campaigns has been completely lost to bribery and advertisement.
As a second-term president and four-year member of Students Against Driving Drunk and the middle school coordinator of the Baltimore County Students Against Driving Drunk, I am both appalled and distressed to witness the manner in which students are being bribed in order to sign a pledge that many have no intention of keeping.
Lovers are entwined in the crosswalks; families are out on the stoops. Kids are playing hide-'n-go-seek in the alley, and the tulips are in bloom.
The Orioles are back in town; the girls are wearing shorts. The ice cream truck is back on the street, and the rag-tops are down.
Happy spring, everybody!
Margaret P. King