An African American cultural district for Baltimore?
Baltimore has a population of more than 630,000, of which 64 percent are African American, according to the most recent U.S. Census estimate. With these figures in mind, does the city really need a concentrated African American cultural district? The Rev. Al Sharpton recently visited Charm City to throw his support behind the push for one. Sharpton said such a district would bolster the self-image of local youths, in addition to being "an investment in the social order."
This might sound harsh, but it has to be said that such a district should not be necessary. For starters, boosting anyone's self-image should begin with one's self; ultimately, people are going to see themselves how they want. While creating positive influences to help young people make good decisions may be a worthy goal, sectioning off part of the city to accomplish this task won't work.
Those behind this project would be better off going directly to youths. Also, areas such as "Little Italy" and "Greektown" aren't a fair comparison to such a district, given to the historical significance of immigrants from Italy and Greece to the settling of those areas.
With attractions like the Great Blacks in Wax Museum, the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, Baltimore's African American cultural footprint is pretty secure at this stage of the game.
It would be beneficial for all involved to promote these existing centers, in addition to lesser-known events, year round to everyone -- and not just African Americans, let alone African American youths.
| May 19, 2010; 11:35 AM ET
Categories: Baltimore, HotTopic, Local blog network, Maryland
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