The Sun will unveil the 2018 Marylander of the Year later this week, but as usual, we found far more people deserving of recognition this year than those we named as finalists this month. Here are five more individuals and groups who made Maryland a better place this year.
Anne Arundel County women
For the last eight years, the Anne Arundel County Council was made up of seven men and zero women. And those men, sad to say, did not always represent the best in the county. One went to jail for five months for failing to file tax returns. One was a long-time member of a segregationist organization, and another had a track record of insensitive remarks about minorities and the poor. Republican Amanda Fiedler did us all a favor by knocking out former League of the South member Michael Peroutka in the primary, and she turned out to be in the vanguard of a women’s movement in Arundel politics. She and Sarah Lacey, Allison Pickard, Lisa Brannigan Rodvien and Jessica Haire comprise a female-majority council. Meanwhile, Pam Beidle and Sarah Elfreth took over seats in the county’s formerly all-male Senate delegation.
Kenneth Banks and Gloria Mayfield Banks
The philanthropist couple Kenneth Banks and Gloria Mayfield Banks wanted kids in Baltimore to see a more positive representation of African Americans than what they tend to get on the nightly news, so they paid for more than 150 of them to see the superhero mega-hit “Black Panther.” The hero of the movie is the king of a technologically advanced African nation, and the cast is nearly all black, a Hollywood rarity. “It’s exposure,” Mr. Banks said. “Children are not necessarily exposed to the understanding that there were and are black kings and queens. It showed women, very strong black women, women that were experts in world-leading technology. These kids, they need to see that instead of some of the images portrayed in the news media and TV and other entertainment.” Ms. Mayfield Banks said, “I just really wanted to have these kids see that they are superheroes as well.”
No one in history has been more generous to his alma mater than businessman and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been to Johns Hopkins University. It’s school of public health is named for him, and one of the new towers at the hospital is named for his mother. But this year’s contribution to the university was truly jaw-dropping: a $1.8 billion gift to enable the university to pursue need-blind admissions to its undergraduate programs. The money will go exclusively to scholarships for low- and moderate-income families and will enable the university to eliminate the need for loans in its financial aid packages. Mr. Bloomberg would be a shoo-in for Marylander of the Year at some point if only he would move back to Maryland.
After thirty years as Baltimore’s streetcorner astronomer, Herman Heyn hung up his telescope this year. His vocation brought the Waverly resident a little fame and very little fortune but also the great love and admiration of thousands of people who peered up at the night sky with his guidance. For some, he provided a first and only glimpse of the craters of the moon or rings of Saturn; others, he inspired to a life of stargazing. But for all, he was a charming ambassador for this city’s quirkiness.
The White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks is hardly the only African-American woman that President Donald Trump has insulted or berated, but she is among the most forceful in calling out what has emerged as an unmistakable pattern. From political leaders (Maxine Waters, Stacey Abrams, Frederica Wilson) to Ms. Ryan’s fellow journalists (Yamiche Alcindor, Abby Phillip, Jamele Hill), Mr. Trump has a habit of questioning powerful black women’s intelligence, qualifications and honesty in nasty ways, even by his standards. Ms. Ryan, who lives in Baltimore and graduated from Morgan State University, withstood his threats to revoke her press credentials and fought back in the most important way: by doing her job.