Black History Month: Reason to Celebrate and Study

Throughout our five-year journey, New Bay Times has stood for justice - whether environmental justice, social justice or racial justice.

That's why we devote more than a little space to African American issues. It is why we think Black History Month can be a fruitful time for all of us. It is also why, in this issue, managing editor Sandra Martin provides our readers and our visitors with a sample of attractions in a region where African American history and culture abound.

From City Dock in Annapolis to the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore as well as any direction you look, Chesapeake Country is rich with opportunity to study our past. Did you know, for instance, that Maryland is home to African American heroes in many fields, from human rights to sport and song? You'll learn more about many of our noteworthy African Americans in both this week's lead story, "Stops on the Road from Slavery to Freedom," and this week's event-filled calendar of Black History Month.

In many cases, the past isn't appealing; pondering the slave ships that pulled up to the docks in Annapolis or Edgewater is sobering, to say the least. (Even more sobering once you've viewed the replica slave ship at the Great Blacks in Wax Museum.) But it is history that belongs to all of us and a period of our past that we need to understand if we are to proceed with wisdom into a new century and a new era of changing population.

Racial politics are thorny. We'll feel the thorns once more in this election year as, for just one example, the issue of affirmative action as a means to promote racial equality gets a new airing.

Black-white relations can be even trickier. We hear white people say: "What's eating them, anyway? The rising tide is lifting their boats, too; there's a growing black middle class. Heck, the president's best friend, Vernon Jordan, is black and so is his executive secretary."

Black friends tell us that whites don't get it. "There's more than economics involved There's overt racism out there that we have to live with every day."

It's hard to argue that point with the Ku Klux Klan scheduled to rally in Annapolis this weekend.

But it's easy to use Black History Month to reflect on where we've been - and where we're headed.

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VolumeVI Number 5
February 5-11, 1998
New Bay Times

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