BALTIMORE — Jocelyn “Joy” Bramble laid out a vision for her life’s work on the kitchen table of her West Baltimore home at 1800 Madison Avenue. It was a plan to publish a weekly newspaper that informed citizens of Baltimore and its surrounding areas of the good news happening around town.
That was 30 years ago.
These days, The Baltimore Times newspapers herald as a beacon of light amidst the swarm of unbalanced media coverage of people and communities of color. It is the longest running, black-owned news organization that exclusively covers positive stories about positive people in this city.
“A teacher and a priest, what did we know about newspapers?” said Bramble of her and her husband’s pledge to publish a newspaper that would immortalize the achievements, events and proud moments in the lives of everyday people.
“Absolutely nothing, except that we knew that wonderful things were happening in our community and we wanted to highlight and share them. One thing we knew for sure was that we were going to publish positive stories that would uplift our readers.”
Armed with a PC, $732 and a passion to tell the real stories—the positive stories—Bramble launched The Baltimore Times as a monthly publication that soon became weekly as it grew in popularity and gained unwavering loyalty and respect among its readership. Over the course of three score years, the Baltimore Times has circulated several editions of the publication around Maryland: The Annapolis Times, The Shore Times, The Prince George’s County Times, and The Baltimore County Times.
On Saturday, October 22, 2016, Actors Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe hosted a jam-packed ballroom of The Baltimore Times’ readers and supporters at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum for a gala celebration to kick off the publication’s 30-year anniversary. Sandra Pinckney, former anchor for WJZ-TV was mistress of ceremony. Members of the City Council, President Jack Young, Councilwoman Sharon Middleton, Rochelle “Rikki” Spector and the 7th District’s Nick Mosby, who attended with wife Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Adrienne A. Jones, Speaker Pro Tem of the Maryland House of Delegates, were among the 200 plus attendees.
Among the moving accolades bestowed up Bramble and The Baltimore Times’ staff for their dedication to the community was a presentation from Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md).
“Thank you for having a dream,” said Cummings before presenting Bramble with the Congressional Achievement Award. “What you did was you took it and made something of it. And you remind us of how great we are. Too often we are reminded of our weakest links. But we come from strong stock.”
Bramble says the success of The Baltimore Times has been a community effort.
“We had no idea where [this] would lead or even if it would fly. [But] we were quickly embraced by the community. Stories were sent by folks who wanted to write but had no outlet. We became their outlet. The newspapers were eagerly picked and delivered by strangers to friends, churches, and businesses. And as they say, the rest is history.”
Although the staff is looking forward to 30 more years of leadership from Bramble, they thought it was essential to preserve the history of positivity The Baltimore Times has covered thus far. Dr. Joanne Martin, co-founder of The National Great Blacks in Wax unveiled the profile of a wax figure of Bramble to be constructed for display at the museum.
“I thank our sponsors who have supported us and our readers who pick up papers weekly and our staff who labor every day to produce a newspaper of we are proud of,” said Bramble.
“Although we face challenges with the digital age, I want to state publicly [that] we are here to stay. We are embracing the digital age with excitement. And to steal a thought from Mark Twain: ‘the news of the death of newspapers is greatly exaggerated.’”