Those compliments were used regardless of the ethnicity of the object of our discussions. They were well-intended and meant to convey a positive perception and observation, regardless of color. They are universal. While she may be correct in the context of a Baltimore-centered environment, she is assuredly wrong in a national or global context. Out of curiosity, I did a Google search about the terms "well-spoken" and "articulate" vis-a-vis black Americans. Surprisingly, I found that there is a strong perception among the black community that these terms are denigrating to blacks. And the rationale seems to be that since inherently racist whites can't imagine a black person being "well-spoken," then the term is applied in a sarcastic manner and is therefore disrespectful.