As we prepared this issue for press, Maryland’s first Black governor, Wes Moore, was inaugurated. I knew that this was something I’d have to see for myself, and so I drove to Annapolis along with Schaun Champion, Baltimore Beat’s director of photography, to check it out. It was hard not to be swept up in the celebrity, the display of power, and the important names who all gathered in front of the statehouse to see Moore take the oath of office and deliver his inaugural address. Black people, some with children, came to see one of us break a barrier. I don’t want to downplay the happiness that many feel right now (outgoing Governor Larry Hogan disparaged this city enough for everyone to at least allow themselves some joy that he’s gone). At the same time, I’ve been covering Baltimore politics, a place where most leaders are Black, long enough to know that representation isn’t enough. Maryland is a rich state, but so many people are hurting and in need. As we write in our “Around Baltimore” news roundup, Moore has his work cut out for him.
Also in this issue, we celebrate the life of another pioneer. Irving Henry Webster Phillips Jr. got his start at the AFRO and then went on to become the Baltimore Sun’s first Black photographer. Journalism is a hard industry to break into — especially if you are Black. Even today, it’s hard to find many Black reporters writing about this majority-Black city. I feel lucky to get the chance to run some of Phillips’ images in Baltimore Beat, and am honored that his son, I. H. Webster Phillips III, trusted us to do so.
In these pages, you’ll also learn about the Baltimore Student Union, a group of high school students from all around the city who are organizing to advocate for themselves. The problems with Baltimore’s school system are complex and go back decades. These young people say they want to help resolve them in a way that allows many different kinds of people to be heard.
Finally, you’ll find film critic Dominic Griffin talking about “To Leslie,” the low-budget film that’s generating Oscar buzz, tarotscopes from Iya Osundara Ogunsina, a poem written by Charlotte Subelsky, and a piece that I wrote about how leaders are working to solve the problem of homelessness.