Last week, Devin Allen, the Baltimore photographer who continues to make a name for himself with his arresting, graceful shots of this city and the people in it (go get his book “A Beautiful Ghetto”), agreed to take the cover shot for this, the first issue of our new weekly newspaper.
Separately, organizer Erricka Bridgeford, fresh off the second Baltimore Ceasefire, agreed to talk to us about what she’s learned since she launched the city-unifying effort aimed at stopping Baltimore’s troubling murder rate.
The two agreed to meet me on a cold and rainy Tuesday in Bridgeford’s old West Baltimore neighborhood for a photoshoot. Allen looked at Bridgeford. Bridgeford looked at Allen.
“Were you . . . a teacher?” Allen asked her.
Yes, she was, she confirmed. Then, she was known as Ms. T. (short for Thomas, Bridgeford’s maiden name). It turns out Bridgford was Allen’s kindergarten teacher.
The two screamed, hugged, and snapped a photo together.
This coincidence—this little bit of magic—in what would turn out to be a busy, stressful week taught me some things. First, Bridgeford has been a nurturer from way back. Second, according to Bridgeford, Allen was curious, high-spirited, and whip-smart, even when he was a little guy.
Everything has to start somewhere. Roots run deep.
We’re starting now with this very newspaper. But we grow out of the journalistic roots of Baltimore’s old alt-weekly, the Baltimore City Paper, and other alt-weeklies around the country, staffed by people who work hard to fill in the details that traditional media often miss, and tell stories that people from all walks of life can appreciate.
In these pages you’ll find that interview with Bridgeford, along with information about lots of other events happening in the city. You will also find an interview that some local students conducted with famed writer and essayist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We’d like to note here that in explaining her particular brand of feminism Adichie has made some troubling comments about trans women, comments that deserve to be challenged. But in this instance we’ve chosen instead to focus on the young people and how they wielded their opportunity to interview one of the most celebrated authors of our time.
When we announced that we intended to start a new newspaper, the support that we got before we’d even printed a word was overwhelming and positive. Journalism isn’t dead, print isn’t dead, and people will always search out ways to communicate with one another.
Thank you for your warm welcome. Please keep reading, but also hold us accountable. We want to make this a place where people from all parts of the city are seen and heard. Welcome to the Baltimore Beat.