Annapolis honors beloved ‘Walking Man’ with heart-warming mural

It is unlikely to find a longtime Annapolitan who has never met, seen or heard of an Annapolis legend named Carlester “Buckwheat” Smith. According to sightings, which span decades, Smith stayed armed with a constant supply of plastic bags and a fast walk.

Smith had a disability which did not did stop him from faithfully appearing to pick up trash on West Street. The “Walking Man” didn’t just keep the city debris-free, he also inspired people to smile and feel upbeat. Although illness now prevents Smith from continuing his environmentally conscious tradition, fans can now view a representation of his cheerful face on a mural located at Pinkey’s West Street Liquors at 1100 West Street.

Even though many murals have been popping up in public places all over Annapolis—paying homage to individuals such as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd— this particular artistic representation differs because Smith’s mural is not tied to police brutality.

  Kevin Lebling, who is also known by the stage name, “Hurricane Kevin,” performs blues and folk-oriented music, while singing and playing the guitar and harmonica. On June 22, 2020, the experienced musician hosted a virtual Facebook benefit concert for Smith called “Walk With Me.”

Lebling says he met Smith in the late seventies and described him as “a beautifully-spirited guy.” Musicians volunteered to perform, during the five-hour live streamed fundraiser. An overwhelming number of Smith’s fans thanked “The Walking Man” for his work and inspiration. Lebling estimated that thousands of supporters stepped up to contribute to Smith’s mural. Lebling added that a core group of six individuals led the charge to do something for Smith, after the question was posed online, about Smith’s whereabouts.

Comacell Brown, Jr. remembered seeing Carlester “Buckwheat” Smith, picking up trash, when he was a child. He along with other artists had the opportunity to lead the charge to celebrate the Annapolis icon by painting a mural, which was completed on July 12, 2020.

Courtesy Photo/Brian White

Comacell Brown, Jr. remembered seeing Carlester “Buckwheat” Smith, picking up trash, when he was a child. He along with other artists had the opportunity to lead the charge to celebrate the Annapolis icon by painting a mural, which was completed on July 12, 2020.

  “We were able to raise over $5,000, just from that (online music) show, and people continued to contribute,” Lebling said, explaining that musicians volunteered to raise money to cover expenses related to creating the mural and producing the show. “One of the real main points of this project— and it is over and about Buckwheat— but it brings the community together. We are seeing all of these murals of people, who were murdered, but with this one, Carlester is still alive, and we’re celebrating him because of his smile, because of the way he did what Cal Ripken did. He showed up to work everyday. He brightened people’s lives, and I think he brought the community, which is a diverse community, I think he brings us all a little more together.”

Lebling added that although Smith’s in-person presence is missed, people will still have the joy of seeing his likeness on West Street.

Comacell Brown, Jr. is the mural’s lead artist who brought the vision to life, along with other artists. Brown, who is the owner of Cell Spitfire Paintings and Designs, LLC, came up with the art work which was approved by Smith’s family.

  Brown explained that the creation of the mural was sparked after someone posting an inquiry on Facebook— had anyone seen Smith? A family member of eSmith responded that he was no longer able to get around, due to a back problems and failing health. A collective idea to do something to honor Smith emerged. Brown, also a teaching artist got to work.

  “It (painting the mural) was important to me, because he (Smith) was a legend in my eyes for all of the work that he continuously did day in and day out in Annapolis,” Brown said. “And, he was also one of the rare people who could connect black and white people together, through his hard work, with no bias. You really saw that [while] painting the mural, and hearing the stories— I think that he was pivotal in Annapolis.”

  Brown has been a part of six local mural projects. Over 75 people suggested that he should be the one to lead the mural project of Smith.

The artist said that Smith’s family reached out to him and said that they would be honored if he painted the mural.

The masterpiece was painted July 11-12, 2020. Now, an artistic representation allows individuals who still love Annapolis’s special hometown hero to celebrate fond memories.

  “I believe the mural is very important for people who didn’t get a chance to say their goodbyes, being that he is not able to come out anymore,” Brown said. “It gives that same drive and happiness to see this mural of him, right on the same street where they were introduced to him…”

  Funds are still being raised for two more murals and Smith’s care. For more information or updates or to make a donation, visit https://www.facebook.com/CarlesterSmithAnnapolis.   

Local teen invents safety pouch as safety strategy during police traffic stops

Police traffic stops continue to be a sensitive topic for African Americans. Before the incident in Minnesota with George Floyd, many African-Americans could reflect upon the “classic talk” they received at home about how to safely deal with police encounters.

Amber Palm fills online orders for her invention, Dash Pouch at home. Kia Palm is Amber’s mother and mentor. The teen is interested in studying Business Entrepreneurship in college said that her entrepreneurial parent helped her to search for manufacturers and places she could present her idea. The Dash Pouch is currently sold for $15.00.

Courtesy Photo: LeQuan Dixon

Amber Palm fills online orders for her invention, Dash Pouch at home. Kia Palm is Amber’s mother and mentor. The teen is interested in studying Business Entrepreneurship in college said that her entrepreneurial parent helped her to search for manufacturers and places she could present her idea. The Dash Pouch is currently sold for $15.00.

The death of Floyd at the hands of police while he was in police custody sparked strings of protests and calls for police reform. The unfortunate event also renewed concerns about how Black civilians should currently handle being stopped by the police. For individuals who strive to reduce the possibility of any misunderstandings, even showing the police requested items such as a driver’s license and registration or proof of insurance can be stressful. Avoiding sudden movements, while keeping their hands in plain view, can greatly influence the outcome of the interaction, when it comes to driving while Black.

Amber Palm, 17, recognized the need for more Black motorists to stay safe during routine traffic stops and to prevent the escalation of more serious or deadly situations. The recent graduate of City Neighbors High School who was raised in Baltimore developed a clever product, which bridges the gap between police safety and motorist interaction.

The tri-fold design looks similar to a wallet, but is measured to fit three critical documents, in preparation for a traffic stop. It’s designed to hold a driver’s identification, registration, and an insurance card in one spot on the dashboard of the car. Thus, no hands are required to pull the items out of a glove compartment, clothes pocket or enclosure, which could be misinterpreted by law enforcement.

“The name of the product is the Dash Pouch. The process is simple. All you have to do is take the anti-slip pad, which has two adhesive sides, and place it in the front of your car— preferably on the dashboard. Place the pouch on top of anti-slip pad, while the vehicle is in use. When it is not in use, remove the pouch and put it away, somewhere out of sight, preferably in the sun visor. The sun visor is more convenient. Even if you forget to place the pouch back on the pad, your hands still remain visible to an officer,” Amber said. “My inspiration behind my invention was mainly the Philando Castile situation, the young man that lost his life while being pulled over, because he had to reach for documentation. Knowing this, I feared for my loved ones, when they leave out the house to drive knowing that a traffic stop could lead to a tragic event. I wanted to do my best to prevent and protect. Also, the device can be used to make the officer and driver feel safe.”

Amber’s company, Palm & Co. was founded in 2018. The teen’s loved ones inspired her to invent something that makes them feel more comfortable while driving, and also helps to protect them. Her product was officially launched in February this year. The ambitious Baltimorean is still trying to get the word out about her invention. To date, she has received over 50 orders from Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina and Hawaii.

“My main target is African-American males and females. I believe that the females want it to protect their loved ones and the males want it to protect themselves,” Amber said. “Also, I said African-Americans because I feel like more negatively-driven incidents have been happening to this race more than any other.”

Trina Mc Caskill, 48, is one of Amber’s customers. She says that she has had several run-ins with law enforcement. They did not always turn out in her favor. McCaskill says she fears for her life, and the lives of loved ones, all of the time. The Baltimore native says she has been using the Dash Pouch every day, since she purchased it.

“I recommend the Dash Pouch to every individual that felt the same fear that I did when they get into their vehicle to drive,” McCaskill said. “Since my hands are visible to [the] officer at all times, it puts me and the officer at ease, and could help save [my] life, so I definitely recommend this product.”

The Dash Pouch also appeals to concerned parents like Jaemellah Kemp who have new African-American teenage drivers in the house. The CEO of IT TAKES TWO, INC. routinely works with youth. Kemp celebrates her son’s milestone, but she has also had countless conversations with him about traffic stops, and making it home safely.

“Having his (my son’s) license, registration, and insurance card clearly visible would reduce our anxiety,” Kemp said.

To find out more about The Dash Pouch, visit: www.palmandco.shop