In this issue, journalist and author Baynard Woods writes about the life of Donnell Rochester. Rochester was 18 when he was fatally shot by a Baltimore City police officer as he attempted to flee in February 2022. Although the Maryland Attorney General’s Office has said that there was probable cause to charge the officer with second-degree murder or manslaughter, Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates declined to do so.

Woods’ story details Rochester’s life growing up in Baltimore, as told by the people who loved him the most. The story records the humanity of a person who was born into a world that often denies people like Rochester their humanity. Rochester isn’t a statistic. He was a vibrant young person with a quick wit who loved Nicki Minaj. 

Also in this issue, Bry Reed writes about Black sci-fi fantasy “The Blood Trials,” written by N. E. Davenport.

“Davenport showcases their talent for worldbuilding and developing an ensemble of dynamic characters. Unfortunately, the larger impact of publishing — with hard time constraints and lack of investment in Black writers — had a massive effect on the final chapters of Davenport’s debut duology,” Reed writes.

Film reviewer Dominic Griffin writes about “The Watermelon Woman,” a film by lesbian director Cheryl Dunye. “On the surface, Dunye’s film is quite similar to the other Gen-X workplace comedies of the era,” Griffin writes. “But ‘The Watermelon Woman’ is more than just another indie-dramedy, slice-of-life from a different cultural perspective.” 

Writer Jalynn Harris details the remarkable life of actor, dancer, and journalist Maria Broom. She has accomplished a lot — and kept Baltimore, spirituality, and the arts at the center of everything she’s done.

Alongside our community and arts and culture calendars, you’ll find a special list of Juneteenth activities. Finally, we have a poem from Writers in Baltimore Schools participant Soliat Ojo.

Thank you for reading Issue 20 of Baltimore Beat.

Lisa Snowden is Editor-in-Chief and cofounder of Baltimore Beat. Previously, she was an editor at Baltimore City Paper, Baltimore Sun, and The Real News Network. Her work has also appeared in Essence,...