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Home > The Glover Report > The Glover Report: Sandtown-Winchester UNITED Proudly to Present Vision: The Journey Since Freddie Gray

The Glover Report: Sandtown-Winchester UNITED Proudly to Present Vision: The Journey Since Freddie Gray

Love is the key!

By Doni Glover, Publisher

(BALTIMORE - REVISED - October 19, 2015) - Those of us in Sandtown-Winchester who were a part of the transformation process of the 1990’s know a bit about community organizing. So, when the Freddie Gray Uprising occurred, some of us innately knew what needed to be done: pulling the community together.

Truth is, there was a lot that needed to be done in a relatively short time-frame so as to do all that we can as a community to avert another round of civil unrest and not for the sake of one penny of grant dollars. We knew that there was no cavalry coming to transform our beloved 72-square blocks and that we’d be going it alone initially. We knew that we had to be the change we seek, literally. We also understood that this would be no microwave process and that it would take time, persistence, and commitment. There needed to be a series of meticulously planned meetings in various spots in the community so as to give all of the residents of Sandtown-Winchester a voice.

The death of Freddie Gray sparked a round of uproar not seen in decades. 1968 was the last time a riot actually occurred. Hence, we knew we had to move as efficiently as possible. Why? Because we knew everybody and their momma was coming to Sandtown-Winchester at lightning speed with all kinds of agendas. We also knew that if our community didn’t have some semblance of unity, then we would likely see the same ol’ shenanigans where one group after another comes thru, does their dog-and-pony show, collects the loot and, once again, leaves and returns to their respective homes with a good percentage of the money that was originally earmarked to help transform the community we call home in the first place.

This time, be assured that the process is resident-formed and resident-driven.

And so, we organized. The first meeting was held on May 27, 2015 at the Penn-North Community Resource Center. We had a packed house with representation from all three levels of government (local, state, and federal).

We’d hold five more of these meetings: the second at Penn-North, the third at Shake-n-Bake Family Fun Center on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the fourth, fifth, and sixth meetings at New Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Incidentally, we came to learn that this church is the same one where one of the six officers was a member prior to the unrest.      

On top of that, we held three strategic planning sessions where we began to shape the vision based on the input we had collected.

I will say that every single meeting was positive. If you know anything about community organizing, you know that there are going to be some difficulties. However, we all understood the larger picture, the greater purpose: Healing our community and then, helping to empower our community.

Despite those challenges, I am proud to say that the community leaders stayed on-task and have emerged with an initial document to be presented to the Sandtown-Winchester Family on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 6 pm. The location is New Song Academy, 1530 Presstman Street.  

I would be terribly remiss to not mention Marsha Bannerman, Lucky Crosby, Inez Robb, Roxanne Prettyman, Hakim Scott, Rev. Lisa Weah, Elder Harris, and William Tyler. There are others, like Darius Hall, Diane Bell-McKoy, Michael Woodhous, Steve Dixon, Tyrell Moyd, William Scipio, Frances Muldrow, Anthony Williams, Wanda Watts, Wanda Best, Rev. A.C.D. Vaughn, and Sheila Dixon who also lent their gifts, talents, and resources in this process. People like Marvin Hayes, Craig Jernigan, and Stacy Fowlkes are to be commended for their contributions. Although she is now a member of the Harlem Park Community, Arlene Fisher is another soldier who came out and gave of herself. Fisher is one of those original Sandtown people who got work done long before it was popular. Such a beautifully bonding spirit is at the core of these very fine people: They simply love Sandtown-Winchester!  

And, I must thank all of our elected officials, including Gov. Larry Hogan, US Senator Barbara Mikulski, US Senator Ben Cardin, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, State Senator Catherine Pugh, Delegate Antonio Hayes, Councilman Nick Mosby, and Councilman Pete Welch.

Delegate Hayes, in particular, went above and beyond in this process. While I burned his phone up with many calls for advice and assistance, he never once complained. For all of the efforts by everyone, we, the Sandtown-Winchester Family, are grateful. Similarly, Michele Brown at Sen. Mikulski’s office is another brave heart who selflessly serves all people. Her level of concern is evident as she tenaciously stuck with us through the foundation-building of what has come to be known as Sandtown-Winchester UNITED.

While doing acknowledgements, something must be said for the ancestors – those people like George G. Kelson, a funeral director who, according to Rev. Vaughn, had the largest black funeral home in Baltimore at one point. It was located right in Sandtown. Margaret Ruffin is another name that deserves announcing – along with Ella Johnson. People like them left us a powerful legacy of advocacy. And there were others, including white folks, who have since gone on but gave back just as much, like Habitat’s Alan Tibbels and Father Damien Nalepa of St. Gregory the Great Church. Time and time again, they proved themselves by their deeds.

Lastly, I have to recognize our community organizing consultant, one Stacy Smith. Smith currently heads  the Urban Business Center located at 1200 West Baltimore Street. Currently working on her Ph.D. at Morgan State University, she is the quintessential organizer who brought wisdom, patience and common sense to the table.

I cannot begin to tell you how many hours she has put in, but I submit to you that they are many. Why? I think she took on this assignment because that’s what grown people do. They see the need, assess what needs to be done, and they do it. The fact that I’ve seen her work in the past had a lot to do with her presence, too.

When I say that Stacy Smith is a visionary, I mean it. I’d have to add that the one thing that has helped our group the most, however, is God. You see, we start and we end every meeting and every session with prayer. Truth be told, that is the missing ingredient much of the time.

A lot of times, we want to put God in and take God out. I really don’t think it works that way. I think either you are going to do it with God at the center, or you are not. I don’t believe there is any compromise. And for anybody who can’t grasp the God concept, then just replace God with love.

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that love is at the core of our work. Love is what afforded Ms. Smith to give of her time to Sandtown-Winchester even though she is arduously toiling on her own hundred million dollar Gateway Project to West Baltimore. Love is what allowed people like Tyrell Moyd at Penn-North and former New Song teacher Corey Barnes to come and get involved. Love is what caused Shake-n-Bake to offer up their space to us for meetings and community awards ceremonies and love is what prompted Wanda Best to take care of lunch during our first strategic session at New Song Academy. Love is what prompted Diane Bell-McKoy to humble her own self to make fliers for us time and time again … even on a Saturday. Here, this woman heads an all-important institution based in Baltimore, Associated Black Charities of Maryland, but also has come out on one of the deadliest corners in Baltimore - Carey & Laurens - for a prayer circle. This is truly commendable.

Hence, we do not take anybody’s efforts for granted. And while there were some disagreements along the way, on October 28, 2015, I am elated to state that we will present our plan to the broader community and I personally hope that you come out and see it for yourself!

Those of us familiar with community-building in this West Baltimore community are also very mindful of the stigma often placed on under-developed communities like Sandtown-Winchester; you know, poor and ignorant. We know what others expectations of us are. We also know what our own expectations are of ourselves for we have had the best teachers money could not buy. Trust and believe, we know that with God at the center and with love in our hearts, there is absolutely nothing we cannot accomplish.

To date, we have done some community-building exercises, including a community awards program, the establishment of a food bank location or two, and a mountain of job referrals. However, we have so much more in our hearts and minds to produce. We ask that you please come out and be a part. All hands on deck!       

Tags: The Glover Report: Sandtown-Winchester UNITED Proudly to Present Vision: The Journey Since Freddie Gray

What do you think?

1 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Carol R. Moore
Oct 19, 2015 4:27pm [ 1 ]

I would like more information on getting involved in my community. I have lived for almost all of my 42 years. Now, a REALTOR®, I feel I can serve and help make a difference.

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