West Baltimore | WYPR

West Baltimore

In its prime, Pennsylvania Avenue was the black entertainment hub of Baltimore, but there’s a whole generation that doesn’t know about that heyday. The Jubilee Arts program aims to bridge the gap. We meet Jade Davis of Jubilee Arts, who teaches a children’s ballet class on the corner of Pennsylvania Ave and Presstman Street, and we get a historical perspective from community organizers Todd Marcus and Amelia Harris of Intersection of Change. We also get two takes on opiate addiction, one from a pharmacy that has to watch out for counterfeit prescriptions, and one from a former drug counselor who’s currently battling his own addiction.

Pennsylvania Avenue, part 2: Born in a Tornado

Dec 18, 2018
all photos by Wendel Patrick

In this episode, businesses survive against the economic odds on the 1800 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, where local entrepreneurs have established their niches with fashion boutiques, discount variety stores, jewelry shops, hair salons, and carry-out restaurants. These are the places where money changes hands and meaningful relationships are nurtured every day. In the words of Sache Jones of No Boundaries Coalition: We do not give up on each other in this neighborhood, even if it feels like outsiders have given up on us

Pennsylvania Avenue, part 1: Resurrection Intersection

Dec 4, 2018
all photos by Wendel Patrick

In 2015, circling helicopter footage showed West Baltimore in chaos. In the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, buildings burned, protesters and looters alike filled the streets, and entire neighborhoods were cordoned off by armored police and the National Guard. Today, the riot police are gone, and so is the media frenzy, but the neighborhood remains, scarred by the story of what happened.  Local activist Ray Kelly says, “To be frank, the unrest started long before the riots, and the unrest is still happening today.” In this episode, we meet Mr. Kelly, along with his neighbors on a two-block stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue where the community is determined to redefine itself in the aftermath of a narrative shaped by outsiders.

Baltimore Ceasefire/Facebook

In late summer Baltimore residents organized a 72-hour “cease-fire” in hopes of stemming gun violence in their city. It wasn’t perfect. There were at least two homicides that weekend in August. But it led to Cease Fire 2.0, scheduled this weekend.

At the end of the last Ceasefire weekend, organizer Erricka Bridgeford said she wanted to continue the effort, but she didn’t know what it would look like.

2100 Edmondson

Jan 4, 2017
all images by Wendel Patrick

The corner diner, Soul Source, is the hub of the 2100 block  of Edmondson Avenue. The manager, Joyce, has been serving breakfast to the locals for 30 years. Her restaurant looks out onto a West Baltimore block scarred by gunshots and stabbings. But the block is more than its scars. It’s a block where a Pentecostal pastor keeps her faith in the face of suffering, where a reformed drug dealer works as a kitchen appliance repairman, and where a political reporter from Kashmir has found sanctuary working behind the counter at a sandwich shop. It’s a block where a former Nigerian soccer star operates an auto repair shop. In his car lot, he lets a homeless man sleep in a van. Next door is an army veteran who issued air-strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. And across the street is a tire repairman who’s trying to beat a 30-year heroin addiction. Crystal, who works in the kitchen at Soul Source, sums it up like this: It’s not always peaches and cream, but this is a place that you know is always going to be real.