Replica slave ship would add to harbor's...


Replica slave ship would add to harbor's maritime history

Ralph Clayton's article ("A bitter Inner Harbor legacy: the slave trade," July 12) concerning the slave trade in antebellum Baltimore reminds us of this terrible legacy related to Baltimore's maritime history.

There are no historical markers, plaques or monuments at the Inner Harbor recalling this aspect of Baltimore's past.

Baltimore has an impressive collection of historic and recreated maritime vessels, such as the Constellation, Pride of Baltimore, Minnie V., steam tug Baltimore, submarine Torsk, Liberty ship John Brown. However, missing from this collection is a slave trading ship.

This may be corrected next year when the vessel Amistad visits Baltimore. This replica of the original Amistad will educate visitors about a historic slave revolt that took place in 1839. That story was popularized in the 1997 film of the same name. Built by Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, the ship recently traveled on its maiden voyage to New York as part of OpSail 2000.

With Baltimore's connection to the slave trade (Frederick Douglass was employed, while a slave, as a ship caulker in Fells Point) perhaps our historic seaport should consider recreating a slave ship like the Amistad.

Fred B. Shoken


Memorial Stadium site needs technology park

This city has an unusually large amount of property available for development. What would a city with vision do with this opportunity?

Would it look to its future by seeking proposals that support the city's future? Would it also recognize the value of preserving the history of the site? I'm talking about Memorial Stadium.

In one of three proposals given serious consideration, a developer offered to use the existing structure to create a technology park with possible laboratory space for Johns Hopkins University.

This proposal has the kind of vision which would bring recognition to Baltimore, add stability to the community, attract young families, provide a financial boost to the city and preserve Baltimore's sports history along with its memorial to military veterans.

The proposal chosen includes the construction of yet more senior housing. Senior housing, with vacancies, already exists nearby. "Build it and they will come" is too risky.

Furthermore, this plan is stalled because of inadequate financing. No city can provide for its citizens, including its seniors, without intelligent economic development.

A visionary use of this property would benefit all citizens. The latest research in human genetics emphasizes that this is an exciting time to utilize Baltimore's research expertise.

Kay Julian Dawson


Democrats created laws for segregated facilities

Mike Lane's July 12 cartoon showing the Republican Party with a "Whites Only" water fountain is another distortion of reality. Maybe he is not old enough to remember when there were restricted water fountains in the South.

In the 1940s, '50s and '60s, virtually every elected official in every Southern state was a Democrat. Democrats made the laws allowing segregated facilities, and Democrats like George Wallace and Lester Maddox enforced those laws.

It was only after legal segregation ended that Republicans began to be elected in those states.

If either candidate is to be held accountable for segregation, logic would dictate that it is Al Gore because of his party and his history, not George W. Bush.

Apparently that wouldn't fit Mr. Lane's agenda. He should be able to find enough material for which to chide conservatives and Republicans without resorting to outright falsehood.

Bill Hilton


Carroll Park master plan invites public participation

In the article ("Turf battle in Carroll Park," June 9), reporter Allison Klein used an unfortunate choice of words when she said the city planning department will "unveil its vision for the site in the Carroll Park master plan." Some readers concluded, incorrectly, that we drafted a plan without public input.

The Department of Planning, with the Department of Recreation and Parks, has been working with the public to develop a long-term vision for Carroll Park through a master planning process.

In July 1997, we conducted the first public meeting to kick off a process for further community involvement. Since that time, we have had more than 20 meetings.

The final meeting for public input will be Aug. 3. For information, call 410-396-7272.

Charles C. Graves III


The writer is director of the Department of Planning.

Gettysburg tower issue about property rights

Congratulations on Sheridan Lyons' July 4 article "Gettysburg landmark falls in preservationists' victory," regarding the National Tower in Gettysburg.

This article addressed the real issue, which was not whether the tower was good or bad, but whether the U.S. government has the right to order a private business on private property to terminate operations on two weeks notice.

Our government and judicial system was founded on equality and a system of checks and balances. What chance does any private business or individual have when this same government is serving as prosecution, judge and jury?

Jennifer Austin


School prayer imposes worship on captive audience

In contrast to a recent letter writer ("Prayer not abhorrent, practiced by many of various religions," July 8), I applaud the recent Supreme Court's decision with regard to school prayer.

It is not solely a matter of finding prayer abhorrent. It is also a matter of being forced to pray (i.e., worship) under government auspices, with no control over the content of the worship. Keep in mind that you are part of a captive audience when you attend or participate in public sports or graduation events.

Do you want the government deciding when and where you are to pray? Do you want the government determining the content of your prayer? Such powers are prohibited to government by the Constitution.

However, this is what happens even with a student-led prayer. In effect, the government delegates these prohibited powers to the student. It is high time that this unconstitutional practice is stopped.

Dan Bridgewater


Failing geography grades for Palestine article authors

Professors James Ron and Alexander Cooley ("Land lease for peace," July 9) may hold advanced degrees in sociology and political science, but they deserve poor grades in history and geography.

Their statement that Israel already encompasses 70 percent of historic Palestine is simply preposterous.

In the early 1920s, Great Britain lopped off a large chunk of "historic Palestine" to form the Arab Kingdom of Transjordan (now Jordan).

Robert Kargon


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