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Home > The Glover Report > The Glover Report: Razing of Harry S. Cummings House Raises Concerns About Preservation of Baltimore's Black History

The Glover Report: Razing of Harry S. Cummings House Raises Concerns About Preservation of Baltimore's Black History

harry cummings
Harry Cummings House was recently razed, causing major concerns among community leaders.

Community Leaders Hold Druid Hill Avenue Press Conference to Express Concerns

By Doni Glover, Publisher

(BALTIMORE – November 11, 2015) - Let me start by saying that Bmorenews is reaching out to Bethel AME Church’s Pastor, Frank Madison Reid, III, for his comments on what transpired today: a press conference where community leaders expressed disdain and concern regarding The Harry S. Cummings House. Owned by Bethel AME, the building which was the birthplace of the first black Baltimore City Councilman was recently razed. It was also later served as the headquarters of one of the most significant branches of the NAACP.

harry cummings-2
A press conference was held today across from Harry Cummings House on Druid Hill Avenue.

In short, a lot of history was recently leveled to the ground. Today, activists, community leaders, and preservationists all convened on Druid Hill Avenue to talk to the press.

Martina Patrelli, Arlene Fisher, Dr. Helena Hicks, Kelly Cross, Louis Fields, Eric Prestbury, and Marvin “Doc” Cheatham were among attendees.   

“We are destroying black history,” said Cheatham.

In a majority black city with a plethora of black elected officials, I’m grappling with the fact that we, as a community – a city – a nation have lost a solid piece of our history and yet besides a handful of concerned people, there is very little outrage.

My hope is that attention can be immediately placed on the remaining pieces of black history currently threatened, including the Mitchell Family Law Office at Druid Hill and Lanvale.

According to Baltimore Heritage’s growing list of threatened and unprotected West Baltimore Civil Rights Sites, 1232 Druid Hill Avenue is also on the list. That property is owned by Bethel, too.

Other properties on Baltimore Heritage’s list include:
*Dr. J.E.T. Camper Residence, 639 N. Carey Street, Owned by Elizabeth Jones
*Druid Hill Health Center/Home of the Friendless, 1313 Druid Hill Avenue, Owned by City  
*Warner T. McGuinn Residence, 1911 Division Street, Owned by John Pinckney
*Public School 103, 1315-1327 Division Street, Owned by City
*Public School 118, 1223-1229 Argyle Avenue, Owned by City
*Colored Young Women’s Christian Association, 1216 Druid Hill Avenue
*Adams Realty Broker Office, 1519 Pennsylvania Avenue (Located within Old West Baltimore National Register Historic District but not inside any local district)

More than anything, I am very grateful that attention is finally being placed on historic preservation.

Ever since Freddie Gray’s tragic death and the subsequent uprising, murals have been popping up all over the place. They’ve garnered my attention because I am a lover of history. And, having some idea of the wealth of black history here in this city, I think this sacred story must be shared. Put Harry Cummings and Rev. Harvey Johnson in some of these murals and accurately portray the most meaningful thing we could teach any child in West Baltimore: his/her history.

America is extremely quick to white-wash our story. Recently, McGraw-Hill had to recall tens of thousands of books because they referred to African American slaves as “immigrant workers.”

This is what happens when we, as a community, are not on-point. We, as a community, have failed – not just Bethel.

We have a burgeoning number of black elected officials in this town who are in position because of the efforts of people like Cummings and Rev. Harvey Johnson and Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson and countless others. Yet, this “arrived” generation of black leaders seemingly has no clue whatsoever about their innate responsibility to protect and preserve our legacy. Baltimore played a critical role in the Civil Rights Movement. Baltimore has historically been a hub for the African American. Prior to the Civil War, Baltimore had more free blacks that anywhere in the nation.

Over time, we have lost our zeal. As we have become modernized and more Americanized, consumed by everything to keep families increasingly individualistic, …. we’ve lost something. We’ve lost a piece of our soul.

The things we should value, we don’t. The things that get our time and attention are otherwise meaningless to the edification and empowerment of our community.

You see, standing there on the corner of Druid Hill and Lanvale today, you could feel the ghosts of Civil Rights Leaders from the past. And while we have lost the Cummings House, we can use this as a moment of clarity to get our priorities back on track.

A people with no history is like a tree with no roots. Marcus Garvey preached it. Bob Marley sang it. Leon H. Sullivan expanded it.

I pray to God that the people will finally wake up and pay attention to the greatness still in our midst. I pray we can get back to those things which mean something. I pray we can – in all our getting – get some common sense. Advanced college degrees are nice, but I’ll take some good ol’ common sense any day of the week.  

Tags: 11.12.15, Community Leaders Hold Druid Hill Avenue Press Conference to Express Concerns, The Glover Report: Razing of Harry S. Cummings House Raises Concerns About Preservation of Baltimore's Black History

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