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Fifty years after King, who exactly is stalling social progress?

I probably did not appreciate Martin Luther King Jr. enough during his life, but I well remember the content and eloquence of his “I Have a Dream” speech. We played it over and over. I grew up in the New York City area, so I was a bit shocked by the the overhang of Jim Crow practices in Baltimore when I moved here in 1973. And C. Fraser Smith’s book on the civil rights history in Maryland was enlightening (“Here lies Jim Crow”). I could not believe that the vaunted major department stores (led by so-called progressive leaders) in downtown Baltimore still were restricting equal access to blacks as late as the early 1960s. And Johns Hopkins Hospital was doing the same.

I readily agree that not enough has changed here. However, I have no idea what you mean by the last sentence of your editorial, “The Sun and Martin Luther King Jr.” (Jan. 15). I agree that the results are nowhere near where they ought to be. And I am very unhappy and frustrated by that. You write: “Fifty years later, we still haven’t. [undergone sufficient change]” Who is the “we?” As I wrote in my commentary last month (“City policies are killing Baltimore,” Dec. 21), I think the poor results and the inadequate progress are, in large part, due to misguided policies. Policies cannot change everything, but that is where we have to begin. So, I ask again, who, exactly, is the “we?”

You have left us holding our breath to find out who you mean have to change their attitudes. Is that Mayor Catherine Pugh? Members of City Council? The school board and school administrators? Teacher unions? Church leaders in Baltimore? The police commissioner? State’s attorney? The courts? Our juvenile justice system? The NAACP? The ACLU? White supremacists? Business leaders? Perhaps that is the subject of an editorial, or series of editorials, for another day.

David F. Tufaro, Baltimore

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