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We should all strive for an honest account of Baltimore’s history

The Sunday service at Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill brought together in prayer two members, Deacon Natalie Conway, left, a descendant of slaves at Hampton plantation, and church member Steve Howard, right, whose ancestors were the Ridgely and Howard families who owned her ancestors.
The Sunday service at Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill brought together in prayer two members, Deacon Natalie Conway, left, a descendant of slaves at Hampton plantation, and church member Steve Howard, right, whose ancestors were the Ridgely and Howard families who owned her ancestors. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

As a citizen of Baltimore and neighbor, I am very proud of the incredible folks at Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill for tackling some difficult questions and history. I urge others in Baltimore to follow in their footsteps (“Church seeks atonement for its slavery past,” Sept. 9).

It’s crucial that we challenge each other to retell our city and country’s history from a place of truth. As an educator, I’m pushing teachers to be honest about our nation’s history — one that’s rooted in racism and slavery, notably before 1776.

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We are at a crossroads and have the opportunity to fight for a more just and equitable society and Baltimore. But, as evidenced by the efforts of the Memorial Episcopal Church, it will start with discomfort and almost certainly be a long journey. If we care about justice, we must have the courage to start down that path now.

Rob Helfenbein, Baltimore

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The writer is the associate dean of the Loyola School of Education.

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