The Baltimore Sun


Maryland's strange history of Jim Crow: It's impossible to consider Maryland's past and not be struck by the irony of race relations in the Free State. The birthplace of the nation's greatest abolitionists, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, was also the home of slavery's staunchest defender, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the infamous Dred Scott decision.

Sun columnist C. Fraser Smith explores the state's past and the effects Jim Crow segregation laws had on everyday Marylanders in his new book Here Lies Jim Crow, to be published by the Johns Hopkins University Press this summer.

While the book elaborates on Maryland's role in the beginning and end of the Jim Crow era, the most compelling aspect of the book is the stories Smith gleaned from dozens of interviews with Marylanders, black and white, who lived with segregation and fought to end its practice.

Here we are reminded of the contributions of Clarence Mitchell Sr., Lillie May Jackson, Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin and Walter Sondheim Jr., leaders who made a difference not only in Maryland, but the nation.

CityLit Festival: The lineup of this year's CityLit Festival -- the fifth annual event -- was announced this week. Dr. Ben Carson will discuss his new book, Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk.

In addition, Tom Hall will moderate a discussion among authors Dan Fesperman (The Amateur Spy), Laura Lippman (Another Thing to Fall) and Manil Suri (The Age of Shiva), and poet Reggie Harris will lead a tour of Baltimore venues "in verse" for the Poetry by Place event.

The festival runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 19 at 400 Cathedral St. in Mount Vernon. Admission is free. For more information, go to


Wednesday, March 5

Felicia "Snoop" Pearson -- Talk with one of the stars of HBO's crime drama The Wire. At the age of 15, Pearson killed a woman in self-defense and did time in a Maryland penitentiary. After getting out of jail she found work at a factory but eventually returned to dealing drugs. She later was chosen for the villainous role she currently plays on the show. She will discuss her memoir, Grace After Midnight. / 7 p.m. / Baltimore County Public Library's Catonsville branch / 1100 Frederick Road.

Charles Mitchell -- Local author will discuss his book, Maryland Voices of the Civil War. He uses letters, diaries and newspapers from the time period to tell about life in Maryland during the Civil War. / 7 p.m. / Baltimore County Public Library's Essex branch / 1110 Eastern Blvd. Thursday, March 6

Lucille Clifton -- The former poet laureate of Maryland will read from her new work. Admission is free. For more information, call Michael Glaser at 240-895-4239. / 8:15 p.m. / Daugherty-Palmer Commons, St. Mary's College of Maryland / 18952 E. Fisher Road, St. Mary's City.

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