'Sankofa'We were recently fortunate enough to chance...



We were recently fortunate enough to chance into the Charles Theater and see the movie, "Sankofa." After viewing this film, the assistant director informed us that it was made for under $1 million.

This is important to note because, in light of the fanfare given the excellent and expensive "Schindler's List," we wondered why "Sankofa" is not generating the same media attention.

"Sankofa" is, overall, given its relatively low budget, a dramatization of a holocaust that warrants at least as much attention if not more, due to the sheer numbers of Africans forcibly spread throughout the world. Generations of slaves were born into and died in slavery.

"Sankofa" is a film with empathy, dynamism and an honesty often missing in historical narratives about the diaspora of Africans.

If held up to the attention given "Schindler's List," "Sankofa" would probably get the audience it truly deserves. The question remains, where is the media excitement this film merits?

All people should see this, because the story of humanity and inhumanity, whether at the hands of Nazis or European slave traders, is the reality of our past.

To selectively encourage viewing one part of our history and not another is to diminish that which we inherit from it.

Aaron Robb

Mark Sebly


No running away

Sometimes it feels like drug users outnumber the non-users in the city. There is no supply problem. The problem is a demand problem. Americans demand drugs; Americans get what they demand.

For the non-user, the answer is not to turn coward and run from the problem, abandoning our beautiful city (as our newly appointed police chief is allowing his department members to do with the lifting of the residency requirement) and its lovely neighborhoods.

Stand together, America. Make your voice heard. Do what is necessary to erase the scourge of drugs.

I believe the pushers should be handled as severely as we handle (in theory) multiple murderers -- because the pusher's product is murdering our children.

However, more importantly, the users should be given time to rehabilitate themselves with access to limited prescribed drugs, perhaps in boot camps like the minimum security camps under structured supervision where they could perhaps learn to value themselves.

I believe anyone who loves himself would not put abusive chemicals into himself.

The solutions are not easy,and the problem cannot be run from.

Stephen Taylor


End of an era

Thank you for your editorial recognizing the importance of New Era Bookshop ("End of an Era," May 26).

For nearly 30 years the New Era offered the people of Maryland a unique source of books, magazines, pamphlets and newspapers covering the mass movements -- organized labor, African- American history and culture, women's equality, peace and socialism.

Many volumes were by or about leaders like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Gus Hall, Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro.

Volunteers contributed thousands of hours to keep the shop open. We remember with fondness Bob Lee, who served for years as manager of the bookshop.

Over the years, thousands of people browsed though our aisles for radical literature.

It is to the credit of the people of Baltimore and to Mayor Theodore McKeldin, who stood with us when the Ku Klux Klan tried to burn our bookshop down.

While our doors have closed at 408 Park Ave., reports of our demise are exaggerated.

Many books and pamphlets from the New Era's shelves have been donated to the George A. Meyers collection, housed in a handsome reading room at Frostburg State University's main library. The collection is open to the public at Frostburg or through inter-library loan.

While no date has been set and no new location found, we intend to reopen the New Era Bookshop in the future.

Joseph P. Henderson


The writer is president of the New Era Bookshop.

Anti-smoking law is unfair to teen-agers

I am writing regarding a new law that will go into effect Oct. 1, which states that anyone under the age of 18 will not be allowed to smoke or possess cigarettes or tobacco products.

At present people under 18 are allowed to smoke, but not to purchase tobacco products. I think the new law is unfair and wrong.

The punishment for smoking or being in the possession of cigarettes will be much like that of being caught with alcohol or driving under the influence of alcohol. That is, one will be given a citation and possibly go to court and be fined.

Is smoking a cigarette really as serious as drinking and driving? Smoking isn't necessarily good for you, but it doesn't impair you in any way that could cause harm like alcohol does.

Chewing tobacco and snuff also will be outlawed for anyone under the age of 18. I especially don't agree with this because chewing tobacco and snuff do absolutely no harm to anyone except the person using them. Unlike second-hand smoke, there is no such danger from chewing tobacco.

Even if smoking is bad for one, you should still have the option to do it regardless of age. Why should a 19 yea -old be able to smoke but not a 17 year old?

If the state really didn't want people to smoke, a more logical way to stop it would be to place a very large tax on cigarettes.

This would make it a very expensive habit for teen-agers, and they would probably realize that they couldn't afford to smoke.

A tax would still give people the option to smoke, but it would be a very costly option. A tax was placed on cigarettes in Canada, and it has reduced the number of teen smokers dramatically. There is no reason such a solution wouldn't work here. Outlawing cigarettes is neither a logical nor effective.

Matt Feldman

Ellicott City

Educating dyslexic children

I reluctantly join Dan Rodricks in praising the parents who met the need to educate their dyslexic children by starting their own school ("Parents of dyslexic youths embark on educational odyssey," June 3).

The reason for my hesitation is that for the past three years my family has struggled with the need for appropriate resources for our son who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other learning disabilities.

A year ago I explored the Jemicy School and found not only the waiting list a deterrent, but the tuition cost of approximately $13,000 a year made it an impossibility.

We are extremely fortunate. When we placed our child in the public school system in our county, we found the special education department and all the professionals involved to be outstandingly knowledgeable and capable.

My husband and I are both professional people who have put one child through college, with another in the process.

We have borrowed substantial amounts of money to do this, including a second mortgage. We could not, as many people cannot, afford specialized education in a special school.

Simply creating another private school does not adequately address the special learning needs of children from all strata in our society. If one has enough money, one can often solve a problem for oneself.

Jemicy and Odyssey may have active outreach programs, but these make small difference to people who must work within the public schools to obtain services for their children.

What about the scores of children with ADD, ADHD, and dyslexia who sit in classrooms every day and are not identified and do not receive the special services they require?

Society pays dearly for those who drop out of school or become chemically dependent, never making the most of their abilities.

Now that the parents of the Odyssey School have helped their own children, their next challenge is to help others.

Margaret F. Testa


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