We are proud and privileged to call Baltimore home. Baltimore is a city of creativity, optimism, and determination. Home to leading public and private research universities, world-class medical institutions, and a diverse business community, Baltimore is a city where both artists and start-ups thrive. From creating one of the nation’s first racially integrated library systems to producing today’s modern medical and technological breakthroughs, our city has a proud legacy of leadership in improving lives and setting a national example for a stronger tomorrow. It’s no wonder we are often named as a place where millennials are moving and staying. This is a city where people not only want to live, but love to live.
That is why we, as leaders of 10 of Baltimore’s anchor institutions, reject the recent unfair and ungenerous characterizations of our great city and its region. Like so many cities across America, Baltimore is a place of paradox, at once vibrant and full of promise and yet also burdened by the weight of generations of racial and economic inequities, deindustrialization, and disinvestment. Like other cities of our size and history, we face urgent challenges with crime, housing equity and our education system. But like all Americans, Baltimoreans deserve respect, support and steadfast partnership from elected officials at every level.
Baltimore is not and will not be defined by our challenges. What defines us is that we continually meet those challenges with resilience and persistence, that we invest in innovation for Baltimore and for the nation, and that we harness the talent of so many exceptional individuals to create opportunity not for the few, but for the many.
Baltimore’s remarkable people include icons past and present like Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall; the longest serving woman in Congress, Sen. Barbara Mikulski; and Rep. Elijah Cummings, outspoken advocate for all his constituents, from west Baltimore to Catonsville and beyond. These leaders are known not only for their deep commitment to our city and communities, but for their stature and public service on the national stage.
We see the promise of Baltimore because we are fortunate to work, serve and live here, alongside our colleagues, employees, students and neighbors. Such promise is proven daily in our shared commitment to our city’s growth and the success of its residents. Baltimore fosters talent in its strong academic institutions and has seen rising venture capital investment in its businesses — a testament to the dynamism and innovative spirit of our businesses large and small. Our leading businesses and non-profits, called upon and supported by our vibrant faith community, launched BLocal, a targeted economic investment and community development plan that over three years has invested more than $280 million and hired more than 1,700 Baltimore residents in underserved neighborhoods. BLocal expresses to the fullest the deep and long-term investment of the city’s anchor institutions.
We never move forward as a community — or indeed, a nation — by denigrating each other. Nor does it serve any of us to demean a vibrant city and its citizens who exemplify those most American of qualities: can-do optimism, grit and creativity.
Justice Thurgood Marshall wisely counseled that “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” And as this city has shown, time and again, when we work together, we rise together. For this and so many reasons we are proud not only to be in Baltimore, but of Baltimore.
Ronald J. Daniels (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of Johns Hopkins University; Kevin Plank is founder, CEO and chairman of the board of Under Armour. They are joined in this op-ed by Eddie Brown, chair, CEO, and founder of Brown Capital Management; Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO at Annie E. Casey Foundation; Michael Hankin, president and CEO at Brown Advisory; Freeman Hrabowski, president of UMBC; Tim Regan, president and CEO at Whiting Turner; Kurt Schmoke, president of the University of Baltimore; Bill Stromberg, president and CEO at T.Rowe Price; and David Wilson, president of Morgan State University.