Midday | WYPR

Midday

Monday-Friday from noon-1:00, Tom Hall and his guests are talking about what’s on your mind, and what matters most to Marylanders:  the latest news, local and national politics, education and the environment, popular culture and the arts, sports and science, race and religion, movies and medicine.  We welcome your questions and comments. E-mail us at midday@wypr.org, tweet us: @MiddayWYPR, or call us at 410-662-8780.
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Midday programs with Sheilah Kast as host ended on September 16, 2016

Archive prior to October 5, 2015

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Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates, in the run-up to Maryland's June 26th primary elections.

Maryland’s General Assembly District 41 has had more than its share of upheaval in recent years. Sen. Lisa Gladden represented the district for 14 years before retiring in February 2017 for health reasons. Del. Nathaniel Oaks was appointed to fill her seat, and four months later, he was indicted in federal court on nine counts of fraud and bribery. In November, prosecutors added obstruction of justice charges. Oaks denied the charges, remained in the Senate, and registered to run for re-election in the primary next month. In late March, Oaks changed his mind. He resigned from the legislature, pleaded guilty and attempted to remove his name from the primary ballot. Oaks will be sentenced on July 17. He faces 8-10 years in prison. Additional attempts to remove Oaks’s name from the ballot failed; his name will indeed appear on the ballot next to those of two other candidates.

Those two candidates are Tom’s guests today in Studio A.

Until last week, Jill P. Carter served as the Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement in Baltimore City. Before that, she served for three terms in the House of Delegates representing the 41st District. Carter is 53 years old. A graduate of Western High School, she was born and raised in the city. She lives in the Hunting Ridge neighborhood of District 41.

J.D. Merrill taught at his alma mater, City College High School from 2013 to 2016. He also served for two years as a special assistant to the chief of staff at City Schools headquarters on North Avenue. Merrill  is 27 years old. He and his wife, Grace O’Malley, live in the Wyndhurst neighborhood of District 41, one street over from where he was born and raised. This is the first time he has run for public office.

Courtesy of Baltimore Center Stage

Tom's guest today is the playwright, director and actor, Kwame Kwei Armah, OBE. He has been the artistic director of Baltimore Center Stage since 2011, but he will soon be moving on.  After his final show at Center Stage, which opens tomorrow night, he’s heading home to London, where he has taken the helm of the storied Young Vic Theatre.

During his tenure here in Baltimore, he produced three of the best-selling shows in the theater’s history. As a playwright, Mr. Kwei-Armah premiered several new works here in Charm City, and he made great strides in diversifying the Center Stage audience. He also oversaw a major, $28 million renovation of the theater’s Calvert Street home, and in his spare time, in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II made him an Officer of the British Empire for his service to drama.

His final production at Center Stage is Soul, the STAX Musical -- the world premiere of a work by playwright Matthew Benjamin that Mr. Kwei-Armah is directing. It tells the story of Memphis-based Stax Records, and chronicles the rise of artists like Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & The MG’s, Wilson Pickett and others—some of the great and early progenitors of Soul and R&B music. 

Midday's theater critic J Wynn Rousuck joins Kwame Kwei-Armah and Tom Hall in Studio A.  We streamed this conversation live on the WYPR Facebook page.  If you missed that,  click here to check out the video.

Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker

Our theater critic J. Wynn  Rousuck joins Tom for another of her weekly reviews of the region's theater offerings. Today, she's spotlighting the world premiere of an adaptation of the J.M.Barrie classic, Peter Pan, ​now on stage at Baltimore's Single Carrot Theatre.

Billed officially as Peter Pan: Wendy, Peter. Peter, Wendy, the play is a modern re-imagining of Barrie's beloved 1904 stage fantasy (and 1911 novel) about identity, growing up and belonging.  It retains the original's iconic characters, from Peter Pan and Wendy and the Darling family dog Nana, to Captain Hook and Tiger Lily and the Lost Boys.  But playwright Joshua Conkel, working in collaboration with Baltimore’s LGBTQ+ residents and service organizations, has updated the Barrie original (as the Single Carrot program explains) "to include contemporary conversations about gender, sexuality, and performative identity, and to embrace queer culture."  The result is that Barrie's nostalgic Neverland is transformed "from a distant fantasy to a modern safe-haven for those who have been rejected and devalued, a stronghold against normalcy and a place where Peter and his Lost Boys can finally be themselves."

Tristan Powell directs Peter Pan at Single Carrot with a cast that features Tina Canady as Wendy/Peter, and Single Carrot Ensemble member Ben Kleymeyer as Peter/Wendy.

Peter Pan continues at Single Carrot Theatre through Sunday, May 20. 

Photo courtesy BCPS

Tom's guest today is the interim superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, Verletta White.  Last month, the County School Board appointed Ms. White as the permanent superintendent, but that decision was overruled last week by the State School Superintendent, Karen Salmon.  Baltimore County is still reeling from the ethics scandal that led to a jail sentence for the previous superintendent.  What are the consequences of the continuing drama surrounding his successor on the state’s third largest school district?  Verletta White joins us today in Studio A to discuss the turmoil over her appointment, and the next steps in her bid to lead Baltimore County schools.

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Plus, there's some drama with the leadership of schools in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, too.  We’ll have analysis of recent developments in both school systems as well as perspectives on Verletta White's situation, in the second half of the show today, from veteran Baltimore Sun education reporter Liz Bowie. 

Photo courtesy Baltimore City Public Schools

On today’s show, Tom is joined Dr. Sonja Santelises, the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools.   As the City School Board considers the budget for the 2018-19 school year, we discuss some of the provisions within the proposal.  This budget does not call for any teacher layoffs, but does call for cuts to Charter Schools.  There is an increase in literacy coaching, and the overall budget has been developed to combat  shrinking enrollment, a persistent problem that speaks to the larger challenges of the city in attracting and keeping young families.

This conversation was streamed live on Facebook.  You can check out the video by clicking on the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/WYPR881FM/videos/10156434271953980/

 

Midday News Wrap 5.4.18

May 4, 2018
Photo Courtesy Carolyn Kaster AP Photo

Today, on the Midday News Wrap: An adult film star is suing the president of the United States.  The aforementioned president added the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, to his ever-changing legal team. 

The president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, remains in legal trouble, as a trouble-shooter for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush joins the list of Trump legal dramatis personae.  Emmet Flood is replacing Ty Cobb.   

A list of questions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller apparently has for President Trump was made public this week.   

The Boy Scouts are dropping the "Boy" part.  The committee for the Nobel Prize in Literature is dropping its effort to make an award this year.  Adidas is under pressure to drop Kanye West after he suggested slavery was a choice. 

Local schools have been in the news this week.  In Baltimore, City Council President Jack Young has questions about an enrollment task force that he says isn’t inclusive enough.

In Baltimore County, interim Superintendent Verletta White was appointed to her position permanently in a split decision by the County School Board, only to be thrown back into interim status by the Maryland Superintendent of Schools, Karen Salmon. 

Joining us from the studios of NPR in Washington, DC is NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe.

Tom is joined in Studio A by Andy Green, the Baltimore Sun Editorial Page Editor; and political scientist, and pollster Dr. Mileah Kromer.   Dr. Kromer is the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, which conducts the widely followed Goucher Poll.

Photo courtesy Floyd Abrams

Today, a conversation about American exceptionalism when it comes to our cherished tradition of free speech.

Tom’s guest is the acclaimed legal scholar, Floyd Abrams, a distinguished constitutional lawyer who has litigated some of the most consequential 1st Amendment cases of our time, including the Pentagon Papers case and Citizen’s United. He is the author of the 2017 book, “The Soul of the First Amendment,” which is just out in paperback.

Floyd Abrams joins Tom on the line from New York, where he is  a senior partner in the law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

It's time for our regular Thursday visit with Midday's peripatetic theater critic,  J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom in the studio today with her review of An American in Paristhe touring stage adaptation of the Gershwin-inspired 1951 film musical. The Tony Award-winning production premiered on Broadway in 2015, hit the road in 2016, and is just now making its local stop at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater.

Like the classic Vincente Minnelli film -- which starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron and won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture -- this award-winning stage adaptation tells the story of an American World War II veteran and aspiring painter who lingers in the newly-liberated Paris of 1945 and falls in love with a young French woman.  Also like the film, the stage version weaves their complicated romance through a rich tapestry of George Gershwin's brilliant orchestral works -- including the titular An American in Paris, the Concerto in F and a Second Rhapsody/Cuban Overture medley -- and more than a dozen of the incomparable songs that George and his brother Ira Gershwin penned during the 1920s and 30s.  Show numbers include I Got Rhythm, S'Wonderful, But Not for Me, Stairway to Paradise, and They Can't take That Away.  And as in the Gene Kelly-choreographed film, a lot of that great music is set wonderfully to dance.

Sollers Point still courtesy Matt Porterfield

It's Midday at the Movies.

The 20th annual Maryland Film Festival kicks off tonight at the SNF Parkway Theater here in Baltimore.  More than 120 local and international filmmakers from around the world are gathered at the newly restored theater on Charles Street to screen their latest work, and to discuss the many facets of their art in panel discussions and workshops.  Between Wednesday May 2 and Sunday, May 6, audiences will be treated to a buffet of over 40 narrative films and documentaries, plus 10 series of short films. 

Today, a preview of the Maryland Film Festival, with its director and founder, Jed Dietz.

Tom also talks with a group of film artists with past and present links to the festival, including Baltimore director Matt Porterfield and actor Jim Belushi, the co-star of Porterfield's new film, Sollers Point, which is premiering at this year's festival

Filmmaker and Maryland Historical Society curator Joe Tropea also stops by the studio to discuss   Sickies Making Filmshis new documentary about the history of film censorship in America. And Tom talks by phone with filmmaker Erik Ljung (pron. "yung") in Los Angeles. His powerful documentary film, The Blood Is at the Doorstep, about a police killing of an unarmed black man in Milwaukee four years ago, has won kudos since its world premiere at the 2017 South-by-Southwest Festival in Austin. The film also screened at last year's Maryland Film Festival, and it returns for another run at the Parkway theater on the heels of the Festival next week.

Photo Courtesy AP News

It’s Midday Culture Connections with Dr Sheri Parks.  Today, we examine the mini-firestorms that have erupted over the past week surrounding journalist, a comedian and a rapper. 

Kanye West set the Twittersphere alight with a series of pro-Trump tweets that led more than a few people to question the rapper’s mental health, and even challenge his “Blackness.”

Today we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates, in the run up to Maryland’s June 26th primary elections.

Tom’s guest is Del. Pat McDonough. He is a Republican, and he has represented parts of Baltimore and Harford Counties in the Maryland Legislature for the past 15 years. He also represented District 7 as a conservative Democrat for one term, from 1979 until 1983. He has been a member of the Health and Government Operations Committee since 2003. In 2016, he ran for Congress in Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District and was defeated by incumbent Dutch Ruppersberger.

Diego Quintana Flickr Creative Commons

And now, a regular feature here on Midday: The Afro Check-In, where we sit down with our colleagues at the Baltimore Afro Newspaper to talk about some of the issues and stories they are covering.

Early voting in Mary’s primary election begins in less than 7 weeks. Several key state senate races, in West Baltimore’s 40th, 41st and 44th Districts are heating up. We’ll take a look at those.

And, the “N” word, used by a Mexican-American rapper. Is that OK?

And how about Kanye West? Given his apprarent Bromance with President Trump, The Afro and others are asking, “Is Kanye OK?”

Kamau High is the Managing Editor of the Afro. Sean Yoes is the Baltimore Editor and the Host of the podcast, Afro First Edition. They joined Tom in Studio A.

Photo Courtesy The Office of the Baltimore County Executive

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26th primary ballot here in Maryland.  

Tom's guest is Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.  He is one of nine Democrats running for Governor on the ballot this June.  The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election in November.  

:Photo courtesy The Union newspaper (CA)

Today a conversation about the interplay of music and medicine.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic degenerative brain disorder that affects about 3% of people over the age of 60.  That’s the average age of people who develop the disease, but Parkinson’s has been diagnosed in people as young as 18.  

The Parkinson’s Association reports that about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease every year.  There may be as many as 7-10 million people living with Parkinson’s world-wide.

There’s a story in the Baltimore Sun by Andrea McDaniels that describes how some patients use boxing to help stave-off the tremors and balance problems they experience.  And, there is some encouraging research that indicates that music may also be a helpful tool in treating the devastating symptoms of this pernicious disease. 

Dr. Zoltan Mari is the director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas and the head of the Nevada Movement Disorders Program.  He joins us on the phone from his office in Las Vegas.

Dr. Alexander Pantelyat joins us here in Studio A. He’s an assistant professor of neurology, and the co-founder and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine, a research and treatment initiative with the Peabody Institute.   As you can see in this brief clip produced by the Baltimore SunDr. Pantelyat is also an accomplished violinist.

Carolyn Black-Sotir is here as well.  She’s a singer, actress and journalist.  You may have seen her perform in concerts, or as a host on Maryland Public Television.   She lost both her parents to Parkinson’s Disease, and she has a concert series called the Steinway Series at Silo Hill in Baltimore County that is devoted to raising awareness of, and funding for, research on Parkinson’s Disease.

An outgrowth of Dr. Pantelyat's research at Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine is ParkinSonics, a research study group-turned-community chorus that's open to anyone with PD or atypical Parkinsonism. No musical experience is necessary, and everyone is welcome. Sponsored by the Maryland Association for Parkinson Support, Inc (MAPS), and Johns Hopkins Pacing for Parkinsons Campaign. For more info, email parkinsonics@comcast.net.

Photo by Will Kirk

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck and her weekly review of the region's noteworthy thespian offerings.   Today, she spotlights the new and unusual staging of William Shakespeare's Othello at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.

What's distinctive about this production of the Bard's 1604 tragedy is its use of "Original Pronunciation," or O.P., which employs the sounds and rhythms of the English that actors in Shakespeare's London theaters would have spoken more than 400 years ago.  The cast was trained in the antique dialect by O.P. coach  Ann Turiano.

Directed by Tom Delise, BSF's Othello features Troy Jennings in the title role, Kathryn Zoerb as Desdemona, Ian Blackwell Rogers as Iago, and Jess Behar as Aemelia.

Othello (in Original Pronunciation) continues at the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory through April 29.

Photo Courtesy JHU Sheridan Library

Four days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with more than 100 cities across the country engulfed in riots, Congress passed a landmark piece of legislation known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibiting discrimination in housing based on race, religion, national origin or gender.

Today, a conversation about equality and equity in the housing market, 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson the Fair Housing Act into law.

Tom is joined in Studio A by, Dr. Ray Winbush.  He’s the Director of Institute of Urban Studies at Morgan State University; and joining us from NPR DC is Lisa Rice, the President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance.

Urban Phokis Photography

Todd Marcus is an acclaimed bass clarinetist, composer and arranger.  He’s also a community activist who has lived and worked in the Sandtown- Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore for more than 20 years.

He’s about to release a new CD, inspired by that historic neighborhood, called On These Streets: A Baltimore Story and recorded with a quintet of some of the area’s finest players.  The disc includes compositions that portray the strengths and challenges of Sandtown-Winchester, and its release coincides with the anniversary of the violence and uprising that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray, three years ago Saturday. Todd and his band will be performing a free concert this Fri., Apr. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Harris-Marcus Center on Pennsylvania Ave. in Sandtown. It’s part of an exhibition by Jubilee Arts marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the unrest that followed in Baltimore. On May 20, the Quintet will perform another free concert as part of the Community Concerts at Second series. You can also catch them on June 16 at Center Stage.

Today, a focus on the primary race for Maryland state legislative seats.

A little later in the show today, Josh Kurtz joins Tom. He is the editor and co-founder of Maryland Matters, a website all about Maryland government and politics.  They’ll size up some of the key races for the State Senate and the House of Delegates that will be on the primary ballot in June.

But first, we focus on one of those key races, as we continue our series of "Conversations with the Candidates."  Tom's guests in Studio A are two lawmakers running for the Senate seat in the 43rd District: the incumbent, Sen. Joan Carter Conway and Del. Mary Washington.

Sen. Conway has served as a member of the state Senate representing this district since 1997. In 2007, she became the first African-American woman to be appointed chair of a Maryland Senate standing committee: the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee of which she has been a member for 21 years. She is a former member of the Baltimore City Council. Sen. Conway is 67. She lives in Hillen with her husband, Tim. They are the parents of a grown son and the grandparents of four.

Del. Washington has represented District 43 in the House of Delegates since 2010. She serves on the Ways & Means Committee; she is the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Homelessness; and she is a member of the Joint Committee on Children, Youth and Families, the Regional Revitalization Task Force, and the Tax Credit Evaluation Committee. Del. Washington is 55. She lives in Ednor Gardens with her partner, Professor Jodi Kelber Kaye, and their two sons. 

We streamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  To watch that video, click here The candidates took your questions; we gave priority to listeners who live in District 43.

Photo courtesy Baltimore Sun

Baltimore is one of six US cities now competing for a $30-million federal grant that city planners hope will launch a major redevelopment project in East Baltimore.  More than 1,300 public housing units and a school would be demolished in what could eventually be a $1 billion transformation of a 200-acre tract between Harbor East and Johns Hopkins Hospital, in the Perkins-Somerset-Oldtown neighborhoods -- a part of the city long marked by blight, vacancies and violent crime.  If the Housing and Urban Development grant is awarded to Baltimore this summer and additional financing can be secured, the project could begin as early as next year.    

Perkins Homes, a large public housing complex, as well as City Springs Charter Elementary and Middle School, would be torn down as part of this huge project, which calls for the construction of a new City Springs school complex and more than  2500 new housing units.  But to what extent could current residents be displaced?  And given the history of past redevelopment efforts, could this project lead to more racial segregation and less affordable housing? 

Melody Simmons is a reporter with the Baltimore Business Journal and a veteran observer of the city’s real estate and development scene who has written several articles on the prospective East Baltimore transformation.

Klaus Philipsen is an architect who writes and lectures widely about urban design, city architecture, preservation and transportation issues. He’s the author of Baltimore: Reinventing an Industrial Legacy City, and his commentaries on urban design appear frequently on his blog, Community Architect.

They join Tom in the Midday studio, and answer listener calls, emails and tweets.   

This segment was streamed live on WYPR Facebook page; you can watch the video here.

Tom speaks with Brittany T. Oliver,  activist and founder of the Baltimore grassroots movement, Not without Black Women. Ms. Oliver was recently appointed to the Baltimore City Commission for Women, and this weekend she will be participating as a panelist at the 2018 Women of the World Festival, presented by Notre Dame of Maryland University. 

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26th primary ballot here in Maryland.

Tom's guest is Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Jr. He is one of nine Democrats running for Governor on the ballot this June. The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election in November.

Unlike several of his Democratic opponents, Sen. Madaleno is not a political outsider. He has represented Montgomery County in the MD Legislature for more than 15 years -- first in the House of Delegates and, since 2007, in the State Senate. Since 2015, he has been Vice-Chair of the powerful Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. He is the first openly gay person elected to the MD House of Delegates and the State Senate. If elected, he would be the first openly gay governor of any state in America.

His running mate is Luwanda W. Jenkins, a Baltimore native and business executive who served in the administrations of Maryland’s last three Democratic governors -- O’Malley, Glendening & Schaefer. 

Sen. Madaleno also took your questions, emails and tweets.  Like all of Midday's Conversations with the Candidates, this program was streamed live on the WYPR FB page. Check out the video here.

Photo Courtesy www.brittneycooper.com

Tom speaks with Dr. Brittney Cooper about her latest book, Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower; a trenchantly argued and provocative look at the status, expectations, and barriers that Black women face in contemporary American society.  

Dr. Brittney Cooper is a professor of women and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, and a columnist for Cosmopolitan  Magazine.

Photo by David D. Mitchell

It's Thursday, and Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her weekly review of a production lighting up one the region's many stages. Today, it's Hoodoo Love, a bluesy play (and one of the earliest works) by Katori Hall, being produced by Baltimore's Arena Players, the oldest continuously operating African American community theater in the United States.

Arena Players calls Hoodoo Love "a tale of love, magic , jealousy and secrets in...1930s Mississippi and Memphis. It is a blues story about having your dreams realized."  Reviewing its premiere in New York's West Village in October 2007, New York Times theater critic Stuart Miller described the play as "an unsentimental, even brutal look at black life in Memphis in the 1930s, the central female characters burdened by rape and betrayal."

One of Hoodoo Love's central female characters is Toulou, a young woman who fled an abusive family and the cotton fields of Mississippi to pursue her dream of becoming a blues singer.

“I love my people’s history,” playwright Katori Hall told the Times back in 2007.  Hall, who studied African-American culture and creative writing at Columbia University, added, “I feel a huge responsibility to tell the stories of my past and my ancestors’ past.”

Director David D. Mitchell leads the Arena Players cast, which features IO Browne (Toulou), Theresa Terry (Candylady), Quinton Randall (Ace of Spades) and Quincy Vicks (Jib).

Hoodoo Love is at Arena Playhouse, 801 McCulloh St., Baltimore MD 21201, through Sunday, April 29.   Tix and info here.

photo courtesy Jay Heinrichs

Tom's guest for the hour today is Jay Heinrichsan author, lecturer, and consultant in the art (and science) of rhetoric.  In a new book, he points out that while the word “debate” comes from the same latin word for “battle,” an argument is not a fight.  In a fight, you try to win.  In an argument, you try to win over.

Who are the best at persuading other individuals, even crowds, to their points of view?  Heinrichs says it's people who have mastered the art of listening, and who have developed the skill that every great comedian has: timing.  Our body language, our tone of voice, and knowing what not to say in many circumstances all contribute to our capacity to change people’s willingness to do something, which is, when all is said and done, the point of a persuasive argument. 

Photo courtesy Dr. Leana Wen

On today’s edition of Healthwatch, with Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen:

Behavioral Health System Baltimore and the Baltimore City Health Department have announced plans to open the city’s first Stabilization Center, with $3.6 million in funds from the State Legislature. 

Cuts by the Trump Administration to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative threatens the  progress made locally and nationally in reducing the number of unwanted teen pregnancies.  We speak with Healthy Teen Network President, Pat Paluzzi, DrPH, about the impact these cuts will have on her clients. 

Finally, senior citizens in Baltimore fall more often than seniors elsewhere.  Roughly 5,000 visits to emergency rooms last year were because of people taking a tumble.  What can be done to keep older folks on their feet?

Dr. Wen answers our questions for the hour, and takes your calls, emails and tweets about your public health concerns.

Cover art courtesy Apollo Press

Today, a conversation about the power of history.

The struggle for civil rights that we’ve remembered in the life and death of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  and other leaders of the movement a half-century ago is a struggle that continues today.  But how much do we really know about what happened in Montgomery and Selma and Memphis back in the 1950s and 60s, and about how to connect Dr. King’s work with today’s Black Lives Matter movement? 

We don’t know enough, says Baltimore author and youth advocate Kevin Shird, who joins Midday senior producer and guest host Rob Sivak  this hour to talk about his new book, The Colored Waiting Room:  Empowering the Original and the New Civil Rights Movementsthe author's effort to make America’s civil rights history come alive in the context of today’s fraught racial landscape.

Mr. Shird gained a new appreciation for the power of history after he struck up a friendship two years ago with 84 year-old Nelson Malden of Montgomery, Alabama.  Malden is an African American who’d been an eyewitness to the historic civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s that played out in Montgomery and elsewhere, and who was, for more than six years, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s barber.

Mr. Shird found in Nelson Malden a willing mentor and history guide, someone who could satisfy his yearning to know more about the American civil rights struggle than what he’d learned in school.

In his new book, Kevin Shird describes his friendship with Nelson Malden, and the pilgrimages he made to the American South and to Malden’s Montgomery home.  It's a personal narrative that tells the story of the civil rights struggle through Nelson Malden’s shared experience, and draws lessons from it for today’s new movement for racial justice.

Associated Press photo

Regular Midday listeners know that every couple of Mondays, we check  in with The Afro-American Newspaper, the venerable news operation just down the road from WYPR.  Today, The Afro’s  managing editor, Kamau High, joins guest host Rob Sivak to spotlight some of the stories the paper is covering this week. 

Those stories include the second of a two-part series by Morgan State U. professor and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist E.R. Shipp, looking at The Black Press and the Baltimore '68 Riots

Another retrospective on that troubled time, and on something good that came out of it, is J. K. Schmid's exclusive feature for The Afro on the city's legendary "Goon Squad," an organization of a dozen-plus ministers, professors, and even a judge, that campaigned for Baltimore causes for decades. Some of the few surviving members share their memories  with Schmid, and we're reminded that they launched a food bank during the riots that eventually morphed into the Maryland Food Bank. Goon Squad members were also involved in the creation of Baltimorians United for Leadership Development, or BUILD, still one of the city's most important centers of community activism. The Afro's Baltimore Editor Sean Yoes also reports on the Civilian Review Board's conclusion that Kevin Davis, Jr. was wrongfully arrested on a murder charge by Baltimore police back in 2015. The CRB is urging disciplinary action against the arresting officers.

Others stories spotlighted in the current issue of The Afro:  the road ahead for the newly elected chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Darryl Barnes; and how the Maryland General Assembly's busy final days led to new opportunities for minority licenses to grow and market medical marijuana.

Photo Courtesy Jim Shea for Maryland

On this latest installment of our series of Conversations with the Candidates, Tom's guest is Jim Shea, a Democrat who's running to be his party's nominee for Maryland Governor.  Shea is one of nine Democrats who'll be on the gubernatorial ballot for the June 26th primary.  The winner will face Republican Governor Larry Hogan in the November general election.  

Shea announced his candidacy last summer, and has chosen Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott as his Lt. Governor running mate.  

Mr. Shea is 65 years old.  He grew up in Towson and he currently lives in Owings Mills.  He is a father of four children and the grandfather of two.  He has been married to his wife Barbara for 39 years.

Smythe Richbourg/Creative Commons

Today, a look at what was accomplished by our legislators in Annapolis during the 2018 MD General Assembly, which ended on Monday night.

Governor Hogan has signed more than a hundred bills into law since then, and he’s let several become law without his signature.  More than 3,100 bills were introduced this year, a record number. 

Tom talks with two Republicans and two Democrats this afternoon to get their impressions of what the Governor has said is the most productive session of his tenure. 

Two of our guests represent Baltimore City.  Two represent Baltimore and Harford Counties. 

Photo by Joe Williams

It's Thursday, and that means we welcome to the studio Midday's far-ranging theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, back from our western frontier and an evening at Frederick's Maryland Ensemble Theater, which is currently staging a new production of playwright Gina Gionfriddo's feminist comedy, Rapture, Blister, Burn -- a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

MET's program describes it as "an intensely smart, immensely funny play that asks the question, 'What makes us happy in life?' After graduate school, Catherine and Gwen chose polar opposite paths. Catherine built a career as a rock star academic, while Gwen built a home with her husband and children. Decades later each woman covets the other’s life, commencing a dangerous game of musical chairs."

Playwright Gionfriddo, in her program notes for Playwrights Horizons' 2012 world premiere of Rapture, Blister, Burn in New York, wrote, "I don't want to say too much about what happens in this play, but age and generation loom large. My play, Becky Shaw, feels to me a play about years 30-35; it's still possible to launch a career or start a family, but you need to hurry up. Rapture, Blister, Burn feels like a play about years 40-45. Big, unfulfilled dreams are still possible, but they're statistically less likely. If you're going to take a big leap and remake yourself, you have to do it now."

The production at MET is directed by Suzanne Beale, and the cast includes Gené Fouché, Carol Randolph, Madeline Reinhold, Laura Stark, and Ron Ward.

Rapture, Blister, Burn continues at Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick through April 29.

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