Volume 12, Issue 39 ~ September 23-29, 2004
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Annapolis organizers of the Slavery Reconciliation Walk for Penitence and Forgiveness — where whites don shackles and trod through city streets — contend that it is a modern form of medieval passion play acting out a drama with a moral. Critics argue that it “is all politics, [where] people come into Annapolis, stir up the pot, then go home.”
Slavery’s Return to Annapolis

Wounding or Healing on the Walk to Reconciliation?

For the first time since the 19th century, shackled humans will march through Annapolis on September 29.

These humans won’t be for sale. They’ll be walking to atone for the sins of Annapolitans 150 years ago.

This is not the first march of its kind, though Annapolis has never seen anything like it.

These walks began in England at the millennium as “a Christian response to the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade,” according to the Lifeline Expedition Project, their sponsor.

The marches are a modern form of medieval passion play, moving through public streets to act out a drama with a moral. Bound in chains and yokes, whites walk through former slave ports around the world as symbolic slaves. Blacks walk alongside the penitents as slave owners. The changed roles symbolize forgiveness.

Earlier walks were held in Spain, Portugal and France. After Annapolis, walks continue in Baltimore, Boston, Rhode Island, Connecticut, South Carolina, New York City and Richmond.

“If it makes people uncomfortable and if it makes people talk, then we’ve done our job,” says Leonard Blackshear of the Annapolis-based Kunta Kinte–Alex Haley Foundation, one of the walk’s local organizers.

That job, says Blackshear, is to draw attention to the history of slavery in Annapolis so that healing can begin.

Critics counter that the marches open old wounds.

In August the National Alliance, a white supremacist organization based in West Virginia, fueled the debate when its Baltimore chapter distributed flyers in Annapolis, calling the walk “racist street theater” and saying it was meant to “shame whites for sins they did not commit.”

“How can anyone be held accountable for something they didn’t do?” asks National Alliance spokesman Shaun Walker.

The National Alliance has some unsuspecting allies on the streets of Annapolis.

“No good can come from this walk,” says 71-year-old Rodell Wright, an African American who retired from the Bank of Annapolis after 20 years and who has never lived outside the city. “There’s not a white person alive that’s at fault and not a black person alive that’s at fault.

“If you’re going to protest something,” says Wright, “protest that I can’t go into a store without being followed. Or that I can’t break a hundred dollar bill without being looked at strange.”

Blackshear argues that this walk will confront prejudice of all sorts.

“People die from cancer because of denial,” he says. “When we find out we have it and then we refuse to treat it, it eats at us until it kills us. Racism is cancer.”

He says the chained walkers, who will number around a dozen, are the beginnings of Annapolis’ cure. “The walk is a chemotherapy, not the chemotherapy.”

Wright scoffs at that explanation. “I can’t be blamed for what my father did,” he says. “I learned young that two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Several whites interviewed downtown for this story did not wish to be identified citing fear of looking insensitive. One store owner along Maryland Avenue, however, said on the condition her name not be used, “I’m not sure what purpose this will serve. What happened 150 years ago is over and done with.”

In the middle, balancing the opposing sides, is Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer.

“How each of us chooses to act as individuals to address actions of man’s inhumanity to man, I believe, is a personal and private affair,” she said. “Some have determined through contemplation and soul searching that their own voice must be public as in Lifeline’s approach to the past. Others join in collective action. Others choose to reconcile their own anger and hate. Others choose to do nothing.”

Anger over chains and yokes may be a stage in the healing.

“Annapolis citizens don’t want to see people walking the streets in chains because the chains are symbolic of the racism hidden within people,” says Judy Cabral, also of the Kunta Kinte–Alex Haley Foundation. “Once people recognize that they have issues and concerns, we can begin to move toward reconciliation and healing.”

To that end, after the walk the foundation plans periodic reconciliation study circles focused on what it says are the four steps of healing: confession, repentance, reconciliation and restitution.

“These are open forums,” says Blackshear. “A lot of European Americans are afraid of saying something controversial. We don’t allow de-humanization or humiliation in these groups. They can open up, and so can we.”

Blackshear expects that the study circles will lead to action as the descendants of slave owners and slaves come together in recognition and healing.

“As hard as it is for Americans in this place and time,” he says, “we embrace and go on from here.”

Others insist any positive message is lost when humans are paraded in chains.

“This is all politics,” says Veronica McNair an African American woman who works downtown. “These people come into Annapolis, stir up the pot, then go home.”

The walk is sponsored locally by the foundation, but only members of the Britain-based Lifeline Expedition Project will wear chains and yokes.

“They don’t know what it was like,” she says of what slaves endured. “They don’t know what it’s still like in some places. They get to go home and take off their little costumes, and it doesn’t change anything.”

Wright agrees.

“What happened, happened,” he says, a cigarette between his fingers as he watches the work on West Street on a quiet morning not a mile from where Kunta Kinte and scores of other slaves were unloaded from the cargo ship Lord Ligonier on September 29, 1767.

“Freedom isn’t easy; we can’t make everything right. Some people just can’t handle that.”

—Louis Llovio

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Annapolis Rotary Crab Feast

For the 59th Year, Crabs Were Sweet, Fat and Plentiful

For 59 years, the Annapolis Rotary Crab Feast has been the defining summer event in Annapolis: part town social, part neighborhood reunion, the place to see and be seen. Billed as the World’s Largest Crab Feast in a kingdom where crabs rule, it is indeed a feast to top them all.

The event slid from August into September this year due to construction at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. No one seemed to mind, for September is the month when many say the crabs are sweetest, fattest and most plentiful.

Among the 2,500 crab lovers lining up early were Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens and Annapolis Alderwoman Louise Hammond, who along with their families and friends waited patiently for the shotgun 5pm start of feast and festivities.

As crab revelers headed for tables under the eaves of the rehabbed stadium, mountains of No. 1 jumbo crabs steamed to perfection on site by Shoreline Seafood awaited them, along with mounds of steaming Maryland corn on the cob. Maryland vegetable crab soup was ladled up, bottles of water handed out and enough beer to float City Dock poured. To fill any gaps, Adam’s the Place for Ribs served barbecue sandwiches and hot dogs.

The musical duo 2.4.U set the mood for the generous feast whose motto — take all you want, but eat all you take — assures no waste in these resource-conscious years.

photos by M.L. Faunce
In addition to all the crabs you could eat, guests at the Annapolis Rotary’s 59th annual Crab Feast also had a cake wheel with fresh-baked goodies to tempt them.
Once feasters had eaten their fill, they moved to raffle and silent auction, souvenir sales and cake wheel, aimed to add funds to Annapolis Rotary’s biggest annual fundraiser for local non-profit community organizations.

At the cake wheel, donated cakes and pies and brownies were stacked high behind the ladies of the Inner Wheel, a play on words of the Rotary mission. Plunking down a quarter on a number gave players a one-in-40 chance. MarthaJean Lutyk, one of the Inner Wheel ladies said she has been “spinning the wheel” for 40 years at Rotary events. “I’m teaching these kids to gamble,” she says, though for a good cause and a homemade dessert. But Lutyk is softhearted. “When I see a kid spinning too much, I make sure they get a cake,” she said. Brad Phillon, five, of Annapolis, won in his own right, choosing the red, white and blue cake. Sister Lauren, nine, was also a winner.

Ivan didn’t rain on the 59th annual Rotary Crab Feast, which promised to raise at least the $30,000 gathered at last year’s event to support local non-profit community groups. Since 1946, such local groups as the Greater Clay Street CDC, the Boys and Girls Club, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, the Organization of Hispanic/Latino Americans of A.A.Co., Hospice of the Chesapeake, the ARC, Recreation Deeds for Special Needs, the Chesapeake Bay
Foundation and many other organizations have benefited.

Feasters who stayed to the end were invited to carry home leftover whole watermelons, donated by Whole Foods Market. Among them, Ed and Becky Bannat of Severna Park lingered even as tables were cleared and folded around them by an army of volunteers. Ed hadn’t been back to the world’s largest crab feast since he was a plebe at the Naval Academy, so he had yet to learn there’s always next year, when the crabs again will be sweet and fat and plentiful.

—M.L. Faunce
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Ask the Plant Professor

Of Planting and Keeping Trees

Q We’re concerned about the stability of two trees that bracket our house and would cause extensive damage if they fell. The tulip poplar lost a couple of big limbs during recent storms. The swamp oak looks okay except it has decay hollowing the base.

A Whenever there is a question about a hazard tree, we recommend you contact an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. Call us or go to Search for a Certified Arborist on our website under Links-General Interest, for a listing of arborists near you.

Tulip poplars are not terribly strong-limbed trees. Losing a branch is not uncommon, yet they can be long-lived. The oak decay definitely should be examined.

Q When I plant a balled tree or shrub, do I need to remove the burlap?

A Natural burlap will decompose, though slowly. To ensure it does not impede root growth, loosen it and push to the bottom of the planting hole. Artificial plastic burlap will not decompose and ultimately will kill your plants. Remove it. If you cannot determine what kind you have, hold a lighted match to it. Artificial burlap will shrink and curl; natural will burn. Order or read on-line our Planting Tips for Trees for more help.

Ask the Plant and Pest Professor is compiled from questions sent to the website of the Home and Garden Information Center, part of Maryland Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland. Ask a home gardening or pest control question and find other help: 800-342-2507 (Mon.-Fri. 8am-1pm) • www.hgic.umd.edu.

Way Downstream

In Annapolis, the Chesapeake Bay Program is fighting back. Executive Director David Bancroft, whose multi-state organization was accused in a Washington Post report of sugar-coating its studies on Bay health, contends that the program is a victim of “disinformation.” In the new issue of Bay Journal under the headline “Bay Program needs our support, not criticism,” Bancroft asserts that a General Accounting Office investigation will give the program a clean bill of health …

On the Eastern Shore, a new report from the Wicomico River Creekwatchers shows where some of the Chesapeake’s nutrient loading problems come from. Water samples at 28 locations found nitrogen pollution up 19 percent and phosphorus levels up 55 percent over last year, the Daily Times of Salisbury reports …

In Detroit, Ford has decided not to junk 400 electric vehicles — and instead send them back to Norway, where they came from, to sell to thrifty drivers willing to experiment …

Our Creature Feature comes from Virginia, where news on the bald eagle rescued on Accokeek Creek in Stafford County last week is grim. The bird died, possibly from wounds caused by the talons of another eagle, after being discovered acting peculiarly near a boathouse, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reports.

The lab results won’t be back for a week or so to give a better fix on the cause of death. Afterward, the eagle will be sent to the National Eagle Repository in Denver, which will distribute the feathers to Indian tribes for use in their sacred ceremonies.

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