Police searching for 2-year-old carjacking victim

UPDATE: Baltimore police tweeted the boy has been found and the kidnapping appears to be a hoax


Police: Kidnap hoax

Baltimore police are searching for a 2-year-old boy kidnapped during a carjacking Friday morning in West Baltimore.

Police said around 10:20 a.m. a woman parked her car in the 1300 block of Harlem Ave. with the enginge running and her two-year-old son inside. When she came back to the car a short time later she saw an unknown man get in and drive away. The car was last seen driving west in the 1300 block of Harlem Avenue. The child was still inside the car, police said.

The child, identified as 2-year-old King Silver, is a black male last seen wearing a pink shirt, blue jacket and black pants.

The car is described as a white, four-door 2008 Mazda 6 with Maryland tag 5CD004.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911

Pope Francis blesses Gov. Hogan on ‘behalf of all cancer patients’

In what he described as, “the experience of a lifetime,” Governor Larry Hogan met Pope Francis and received blessings on behalf of all cancer patients during the Pope’s visit to Washington Thursday.


Gov. Hogan at Pope Francis’ departure from Andrews Air Force Base

In a statement Hogan said, “It was an incredible honor to meet His Holiness Pope Francis today in Washington and receive his blessings on behalf of all cancer patients. My faith, like the faith of countless other patients like me, gives me strength to defeat this disease, and continue to be the best public steward I can be for the people of this great state.

I am inspired by the Pope’s words this week: He said that “Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people.” Working to make people’s lives better is something I can understand and will continue to put to work in my administration as well as my life.”

Hogan said he felt ‘blessed’ after meeting the Pope and thanked him as the departed Andrews Air Force Base on the way to New York to address the United Nations.

“Later in the afternoon, I had the honor of seeing him off at Andrews Air Force Base as he left Maryland for New York,” Hogan said in a statement. “Again he grabbed my hands in both of his, I thanked him for his earlier blessing for those suffering with cancer. Again he looked into my eyes and said, ‘I pray for you.’ I thanked him and he held me tighter and repeated again as if to make sure I really knew how much he really meant it, again he said, “I pray for you!” It was a day that I will never forget and I feel incredibly blessed.”

Youth ambassadors teach peers about dating violence

On a brisk night in February there is a lot of noise coming from a fourth floor conference room at the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health in East Baltimore. The raucous sound rises and falls blending in with a recording of the Jeopardy theme song as eight Baltimore City teenagers play “Teen Years Jeopardy,” a game designed by instructors to test their knowledge of healthy relationships.

RELATED STORY: Nominate a changemaker working to reduce violence in Baltimore

A $400 question, “What type of behavior could be considered abusive?” has ignited an intense debate among the seven girls and one boy in the group.

Some students say answer C, “Your partner takes a nap while you’re talking about something important,” is emotionally abusive. Experts say this is not considered abuse, but the teens disagree, which leads to a discussion about healthy communication.

Hopkins assistant Professor Teri Williams Powell uses the exercise as a learning opportunity. “It is absolutely disrespectful. Is it abusive? I don’t think so.” She said. “Not all situations of dating violence are as clear cut as we would like them to be. Keep this in mind as we’re talking to young people that we should really listen to what people are saying.”

The teens are training to become Youth Brand Ambassadors for the Dating Matters Program, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention teen dating violence prevention initiative. The pilot program began in 2012 in Baltimore; Chicago; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Oakland, California— all cities with similar urban violence problems. Baltimore Dating Matters is part of the Baltimore City Health Department’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention and supports the Healthy Baltimore 2015 priority area of Healthy Children and Adolescents.

The project serves twelve middle schools in the city neighborhoods of Upton; Westport; Curtis Bay; Franklin Square; Milton Montford; Cherry Hill; Sandtown-Winchester; and Middle East. The program focuses on giving sixth to eighth graders the skills to stop dating violence before it begins through a multi-pronged curriculum including teachers, parents and peers.

Preliminary numbers gathered by the health department indicate that 70 percent of Baltimore’s middle school students who said they were in a relationship also said they had been victims of dating violence. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen says despite the shockingly high numbers, dating violence is a preventable public health issue that begins with education.

“We know that young people who experience teen dating violence have a higher instance of psychological issues later; they’re at higher risk for suicide and also at higher risk for risky sexual behavior and drug and alcohol abuse. So, stopping this issue before it starts and really educating teens about the problem is something we believe is a public health need. Outreach is important,” said Dr. Wen.

The teens gathered in the conference room at the Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health are part of that outreach. As the communications arm for the Dating Matters Program called i2i, they undergo training before they visit middle schools to spread the word about healthy relationships and warning signs of dating violence. They organize activities including pep rallies, movie nights and whatever it takes to get through to the 11-14 year-olds they are trying to reach. Social media is also a big part of their strategy with daily posts to Twitter and Facebook about relationships.

Aisha Burgess, Interim Director for the Baltimore’s Dating Matters program, says the curriculum is designed to encourage all kinds of healthy relationships, not just dating. According to Burgess, one of the best parts of the program is that it gives young people a vocabulary to address their feelings.

“When young people are able to identify what they’re feeling, then they’re better able to express and communicate it to others without resorting to violence or aggression,” Burgess said. “We’re teaching them healthy communication should look a certain way and once they start dating they’ll know what to expect from their dating partners as well.”

At the Center for Adolescent Health, Teen Years Jeopardy continues with group leader Katrina Brooks. Brooks, who is the community-relations director for the center, tells the future ambassadors how to explain consent to a middle school student.

“We tell them that consent doesn’t happen once. It’s continuous and it’s clear. One of the examples that we give is, ‘say you let a boy hold your hand. Does that now give him permission to put his arms around you?'” The students reply with a resounding, “no!”

“Or touch your behind?” she continued. “Or kiss you?”—both questions get a unanimous no!

“We use things like that to help middle schoolers understand that just because you give consent for one thing doesn’t mean he has access to you or your personal belongings or your personal space without boundaries,” Brooks said. “A lot of kids say, ‘Oh Miss Trina, I gotta ask every little thing?’ The answer is “yes” you have to ask every little thing.”

Eleventh grader Zhateael Lawrence has been visiting middle schools as a Youth Brand Ambassador for two years and says it’s making a difference in younger students’ lives.

“When we talk to middle school kids about how to prevent themselves from being in unhealthy and unsafe relationships and we tell them the signs to look for, sometimes I do think we get through to them,” said Lawrence. “Nowadays you see teens on the street doing bad things. You see little girls messing with boys and things like that. I didn’t want to be like that. I want to be different and get off the streets and do something good with my life.”

For more information about the Dating Matters Program visit: http://health.baltimorecity.gov/DatingMatters.

A conversation with LaShonda Katrice Barnett

“Jam on the Vine,” the debut novel by author LaShonda Katrice Barnett is a lush historical novel set at the turn of the 20th century that sheds light on black life in America post-emancipation. The story follows Ivoe Williams, the daughter of a Muslim cook and a metal smith from her humble beginnings in central-east Texas to her trailblazing career as a journalist and the first African American female newspaper publisher. Along the way Ivoe goes to college, discovers her sexuality and chronicles the injustices of Jim Crow.

LaShonda Katrice Barnett

(Photo: Rachel Eliza)

LaShonda Katrice Barnett

The Baltimore Times recently spoke to Barnett about her new book, boxing, and what she loves about Charm City.

BT: What inspired you to write ‘Jam on the Vine?’

LKB: I come from a family that has always revered the black press. The black press really had significant import in my family when I was growing up. So I thought that I would build a novel in which an African American woman character starts her own newspaper.

BT: If you could back in time and meet a figure from history, who would that be?

LKB: Certainly Ida B. Wells who inspired my protagonist, Ivoe in “Jam.” She’s been a hero of mine forever. I remember that she was the first person that I wrote a black history report on in 3rd grade. I mean, she single-handedly took on an anti-lynching crusade at the end of the 19th century and really exposed all of the rumors and the accepted logic for why black men were supposedly being lynched. She was really a powerhouse. I’d definitely want to meet Ida B. Wells.

BT: You’re very clear in the novel that Ivoe is gay. Why is her sexuality important?

LKB: I wanted to create a lesbian character on purpose because I feel that one of the ways American culture maligns black gay people, in fact all gay people, is by erasing us from history. So when I was writing this story I thought this is a prime opportunity to make thisL woman who launches a black newspaper also queer, just to point out the fact that black gay people have always been here.

BT: There’s a scene in the book where the father, Ennis takes his youngest daughter to a music store where she is molested by police as Ennis helplessly looks on. Was that scene as hard to write, as it was to read?

LKB: Ennis is simply trying to buy a cylinder, what we call a record, for his daughter and because he is a black man who has money, he is accused of a crime he did not commit and his daughter is molested right before his very eyes and he can’t do a damn thing about it.

My people actually come from the same area in Texas where the first half of “Jam” unfolds and those stories are prevalent. The ways in which— even after emancipation and even with freedom— the very fine line people always had to walk 24/7 because any act that was considered out of place could result in you losing your life. That was a very hard scene for me to write because I was very much in touch with the stories where family members and family friends were completely innocent and were embarked upon something very basic, something as simple as buying music and being caught up in a heinous situation like Irabelle and her daddy and the sheriff.

BT: What was your favorite part of the story to write?

LKB: I loved writing about Ivoe going to college. I can’t think of a novel that features an African American female character that is allowed to go to college and to pursue her love for learning and a career, not a historical black novel, so I was very proud to be able to tell that story and delighted to follow a black woman living at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century onto a college campus. A lot of our ancestors made their way out of no way which is what Ivoe’s parents do. Lemon and her husband Ennis, they find a way to make sure their daughter goes off to school to become somebody and I was very excited to be able to write about that.

BT: You talked about balance. It was striking how you realistically described the dangers of being African American in the early 20th century, but you also offer some hope.

LKB: it was very important to me to write about a functional black family and it was also the only way that I could get through the novel. I thought to myself, historically speaking, Jim Crow was always at the backs of black people’s minds. You could not set foot outside your house without worrying about whether or not you were going to make it. That’s just the truth of the matter. Every single bit of research that I put my fingers on underscored this point. It was a very dangerous time. So I thought I have to bring some light into this story. Because the fact of the matter is we’re still here. It wasn’t always horrific. We are a people capable of passion and love and ingenuity and that to me explains why we’re still here. If you’ve got Jim Crow at your back when you leave the house, then at least inside the house let’s create an atmosphere of love.

BT: Your character Berdis, ends up working at the Belvedere hotel in Baltimore. What is your connection to the city?

LKB: (Laughing) I don’t have a connection to Baltimore! Last week I was in Mt. Vernon at a lovely B&B called Empire House and when I got out of the cab to go to the bed and breakfast right next door was the Belvedere where Berdis works! I just chuckled. As soon as I dropped my bag off I went in to the Belvedere I walked all around the hotel and had a meal at a restaurant called the Owl. I was so tickled that I was there. I wanted to show different parts of America and that’s probably because of my scholarly interest in American studies, my Ph. D in American studies. That’s why I have Ivoe going to Omaha and Ennis is in Kansas and I wanted Berdis to come east for the Peabody Conservatory. That was my draw to Baltimore and I like Baltimore. It’s an interesting city, especially artistically speaking. There’s a very rich writer’s scene because of Johns Hopkins Creative writing program so it’s a city full of poets and fiction writers. There’s a lot happening here. It’s full of character.

BT: What’s your next project?

LKB: I’m working on chapter 6 of my new novel called “God’s Follies.” It’s set in Manhattan during the gilded age. I love historical fiction and it’s a heist story. It’ s about two women that pull off a great heist. So it’s a very different story than “Jam” but it is historical and it will introduce you to a little known African American character, a woman by the name of Stephanie Sinclair who was very famous and who lived in Harlem during the 1920’s. Just like Ida B wells inspired the character Ivoe, Stephanie Sinclair has inspired the new character. Thank God for black women’s history! I will be busy for the rest of my life!

BT: What ‘s a fun fact you’d like to share about yourself?

LKB: I like to box and I’m a major jazz head. Outside of my poodle and my human relationships, I love jazz more than anything on the planet. I was talking to a friend of mine who is a well-known bass player and he reminded me that so many jazz players also boxed. Miles Davis was a fantastic boxer and he could

have had a career. He had to choose between the trumpet and boxing he was so good.

BT: What role does the black press have to play in today’s world??

LKB: It’s critical because even though the mainstream press supposedly still has its eye on black America we know at the end of the day that’s not true. I can tell you how many times I’ve seen stories that are particular to black America in the New York Times; not often. The black press is as important today as it was 100 years ago because journalists who write for black newspapers are our boots on the ground. They’ve got their ear to the vine and they are the ones still today in 2015 who are capturing the stories that are crucial to black lives.

The event features three women writers discussing the intersection of place, time and culture in literature and in the lives of women. The conversation will be moderated by Linda A. Duggins, Hachette Book Group.

Baltimore woman designs custom Italian shoes

— Shoe designer Tori Soudan is a woman who knows shoes. Her knowledge runs deep and ranges from the design process to manufacturing. In 2013, the Baltimore resident leveraged her talent, knowledge and resources to launch the Tori Soudan Collection, a collection of prestige shoes handmade in Italy. 

The Shirley 105 Fuchsia Textured

The Shirley 105 Fuchsia Textured “Pony Hair” Pump

Soudan always had a penchant for design and fashion. Her mother was a dress maker and as a teenager Tori made prom dresses for her friends. Her inspiration to design shoes came in 1994 when she studied abroad as a junior at Spelman College and saw a demonstration given by a master shoemaker in Venice, Italy.  She recalls how struck she was by the intricacies of old world shoe making. “That was the first time I was introduced to the craftsmanship of shoe making,” she recalls. “Before I had just taken shoes as just another product, but I realized there was so much skill involved and I was just taken by that.”

The Shaundra boot

The Shaundra boot

After graduating from Spelman in 1996 Tori deepened her fashion knowledge by attending the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York followed by earning an MBA in finance from Northeastern University in 2001. Looking back, Soudan says business school was an important step in creating her shoe company and advises young designers to diversify their skills. “I went to business school because I knew I wanted to start a fashion company, but I hadn’t fine tuned it at that point, ” she says. “That was actually one of the best things I could have done because the business side of fashion is very important,” she adds. 

Armed with her MBA, the driven entrepreneur went back to Europe to research factories and tanneries; a step she says is critical to understanding quality leather and shoes. ” I went back to Italy to do research on factories and tanneries to understand the different types of leathers and what denotes high quality.” The lessons stuck, because today Tori talks about leather the way a sculptor might talk about a fine piece of marble. “I like for the skins to be artistic,” she says. “I look for different textures and different movements within the skins that are very unique. Like for instance I have a pony hair shoe that has woven finish is very unique. It’s a basic black pump but it has a lot of movement and texture to it which makes it more of a statement piece.”

Soudan’s preparation paid off and in 2013 she launched the Tori Soudan Collection, a sumptuous collection of pumps, mules and boots whose stylish on trend designs appeal to the most discerning of customers. The collection’s prices, ranging from $189 for a pair of LaPaula mules to $1500 for the decadent Alonda python boots reflect the exquisite quality and craftsmanship of her handmade shoes. Soudan’s designs have been featured on Good Morning America, CNN and in numerous magazine photo shoots.

Tori is inspired by trends in the fashion industry and by her customers who she says are statement makers.  She has a busy, social woman in mind when designing. “She might be a working woman, she might volunteer, she might attend luncheons or fundraisers or church or weddings, social events. She’s very cosmpolitan, very on trend and very social.”

Soudan declares on her website,  “There are two moments in a woman’s life when her style will make an impact on others – the moment she walks into a room and the moment she walks out. In both instances her shoes will be of great significance.” That statement applies to Soudan’s customers and to her own personal style which she describes as traditional with elements of boldness. “I always try to wear something “conversational” whether it be a jacket, a piece of jewelry or a pair of shoes,” she notes.

Soudan’s artisan Italian shoes begin as sketches drafted in her home office in North Baltimore. She sends the sketches to small family-owned factory in Parabiago, Italy and they send her back a prototype which she either tweaks or approves for production. The collection includes, pumps, mules, wedges and boots ranging in heights from the recently introduced Shirley 50 pump which has a modest 2-inch heel for a lunch with friends, to the towering 4-inch Penthouse pump for a gala event. 

The mother of four says one of her goals in designing the collection was to create a wearable, comfortable heel. She accomplished this by extending the toe box to reduce cramping, putting a 4-millimeter cushion in the footbed and lining all of her shoes with soft lamb skin. She also takes orders for custom widths and sizes.  “It makes me proud every time a woman puts on a shoe and they say ‘I know that I could wear this heel height and feel very comfortable.’ When I get that kind of feedback that makes me the most proud,” she says.

Soudan’s shoes are currently available online and at trunk shows across the country. She says her goal is to have boutiques in major metropolitan areas nationwide.

For more information about the Tori Soudan Collection visit www.torisoudan.com. 

Local Liberians hold 2nd Ebola donation drive

— The local Liberian community is collecting supplies to help fight their Ebola stricken homeland.

The Liberian Association of Maryland (LAM) along with several community groups is hosting an Ebola Donation Drive on Sunday, November 16 from 12 p.m-7p.m. at the Pikesville SDA Church located at 4619 Old Court Road.

Donations of medical supplies including examination gloves, bleach, hand sanitizer, soap and surgical gowns will be shipped to the Liberian Medical Association in Monrovia to assist medical workers treating ill patients.

Ezax Smith, president of LAM said local many local Liberians have lost family members to Ebola and they want to be part of the solution. “ We want to be at the forefront of the effort to prevent more deaths,” he said. “We want to be able to say we did something to help.”

Local Liberian community holds Ebola donation drive

— Johnetta Flomo lives in Maryland and he’s worried about Ebola.

READ RELATED STORY: CDC director raises Ebola alarm

When he thinks about his family back in Liberia, he can’t help but be afraid. “People are scared,” he says. “I speak to people every day in my family and my community and they are panicking, they’re just scared.”

They’re scared because West Africa is in the grip of one of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history. Ebola is a deadly virus that damages the immune system and organs causing severe bleeding inside and outside the body. It spreads through direct contact with body fluids and kills up to 90 percent of people who are infected.

Volunteers begin to pack up medical supplies

(Photo/Frank Ben Weller II)

Volunteers begin to pack up medical supplies

According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there are over 2600 cases and more than 1400 deaths in the affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Liberia counts for nearly half of those deaths with 624 suspected Ebola deaths since August 22.

CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden traveled to the region this week and told NPR in an interview from the Liberian capital of Monrovia that the situation is, “overwhelming” and “unprecedented.” He said his agency “is working flat out on this, but this is huge and needs a global response. … They need a lot of help from the world.”

Boxes ready to be shipped to Liberia

Boxes ready to be shipped to Liberia

As National Secretary for the North America Liberia Adventist Association (NALAASDA) Flomo decided to stop wringing his hands in fear and do something to help. On Sunday August 10, in conjunction with the Liberian Association of Maryland, NALAASDA held an Ebola Awareness and Donation Fund Drive at Deep Creek Middle School in Essex.

Over 250 people showed up to donate needed medical supplies including bleach, hand sanitizer and soap as well as protective clothing like surgical gowns, safety goggles, examination gloves and shoe covers. All of the materials are going to an Ebola center in Monrovia.

The need for medical equipment is real. Caretakers and healthcare workers account for a large number of the deaths due to their proximity to contagious body fluids as they care for sick patients. On Tuesday, WHO reported over 240 cases among health care workers. “In many cases, medical staff are at risk because no protective equipment is available – not even gloves and face masks. Even in dedicated Ebola wards, personal protective equipment is often scarce or not being properly used,” WHO said in a statement dated August 25.

The well attended donation drive drew Liberians as well as Americans who wanted to help. Flomo recalled a touching moment, “There was a little girl, an American, maybe 7 years old who came with her grandfather. She donated her whole savings. People teared up when they saw that.”

NALAASDA plans to hold another drive in the near future to help Liberia in its continuing battle against the worsening epidemic. Flomo says he’s grateful for American help including sending 50 CDC health workers to the region and sharing the experimental serum ZMapp that appears to have helped infected American missionaries Dr. Kent Brantly and health care worker Nancy Writebol.

The recent dire proclamations from WHO and the CDC are all the more reason for NALAASDA and the Maryland Liberian Association to continue their work. Flomo says the donation drive is the first of many and encourages the entire community, not just Liberians to support the drives.

“This is not just an African situation, this is a worldwide situation. When it’s all said and done the question will not be what did ‘they’ do to help us, but what did we do to help ourselves?”

For more information or to make a donation visit nalaasda.com.

The following areas have been designated as drop-off stations for medical supplies:

The Peoples Community Lutheran Church

6200 Loch Raven Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21239

Contact: Gurley Telewoda (410) 206-1231

The Bethel World Church Baltimore

5436 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD 21214

Contact: Pastor Patrick Nepay (443) 985-6543

The Redeemed Christian Church of God

106 Riverside Drive, Essex, MD 21221

Contact: Willie Cooper (410) 344-3210

Torrey Smith and wife welcome baby

Ravens Wide Receiver Torrey Smith and his wife Chanel welcomed a baby boy into their family last week.

Torrey Jeremiah Smith–T.J. for short–was born Friday, April 4.

Smith joked on twitter that he didn’t want to post pictures of his son on social media, but his wife’s wishes won out.

“After all she went through yesterday, she wins,” he tweeted.

A few days before T.J.’s arrival, Smith reflected about becoming a father in a blog post entitled “Countdown to Fatherhood.” He wrote that since he was raised without a father, he wanted to do it the “right” way. For Smith, that includes being married before having children and being a role model and moral compass for his son.

“I want to make sure that he has an open mind and open heart,” Smith wrote. “That he can give and receive love, be respectful, and give more than he takes. These are all things that will not happen overnight but I will do my part in making sure he is a well-balanced young man”

He continued, “I must raise him to be a better man than I could ever dream of being. Can’t wait to meet little TJ. IT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN!!!!!.”

Congratulations to the Smith family.

Negro Leagues Museum opens in Baltimore County

— “Opening Day” came a few days early at the Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball in Baltimore County.

Audrey Simmons, executive director of the museum and widow of Hubert “Bert” Simmons, spoke at the opening day ceremony on March 27, 2014 in Owings Mills. “I’m tremendously happy,” she said. “I only wish that the great Hubert V. Simmons could be here. But I know, they keep telling me, he’s smiling down on all of this.”

The grand opening is the result of the tenacity and years of hard work of both Simmons and Rayner “Ray” Banks, a baseball enthusiast and curator of the museum.

Previously operating under the name Negro Leagues Baseball Museum of Maryland, Inc., it had been housed in various temporary locations, including a church basement since 1996, until Baltimore County offered to give it a permanent home in the new library.

The new facility houses artifacts, photos and memorabilia from the Negro Leagues and is a tribute to Hubert “Bert” Simmons, a Northwest High School graduate who played for four different teams in the Negro Leagues, including the Baltimore Elite Giants in 1950.

Housed on three floors of a new $30 million building, the museum boasts exhibits featuring Leon Day, a Baltimore Elite Giants player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, one of only three women who played in the Negro Leagues.

Five years after his death in 2009, Bert Simmons’ vision of sharing an important part of American history became a reality.

Following his baseball career, Simmons taught in Baltimore City schools for 30 years and coached little league, high school and college baseball for more than 40 years. His wife Audrey said it was always his dream to create a museum to honor the players of the Negro Leagues.

“Bert loved the game, but we must not forget his devotion to education and the well- being of kids in school, “ she noted. “How well I remember his constant efforts to assure that the youngsters who were entrusted to his care learned to appreciate the history of those who struggled to bring equality into the lives of African Americans who had for so many years been denied the liberties that had been promised by our constitution.”

Baltimore County Community College student and baseball player DeSean Rabb, spoke at the opening of the museum and understands the significance of the moment. “For me the Negro Leagues were more than just about baseball,” he said. “In their quest to integrate the major leagues they were also desegregating America game by game. “

The Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball is located in the Owings Mills Library at 10302 Grand Central Avenue, Owings Mills, Maryland 21117.

Baltimore’s first black police commissioner dead at 86

— Bishop Lee Robinson, Baltimore City’s first African American police commissioner, died Monday, January 6, 2014 at the age of 86.

Robinson was a pioneer in Baltimore’s police department, climbing his way through the ranks to become the City’s first black commissioner in 1984. He served in that position for three years.

Robinson also served as secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services from 1987 to 1997 followed by three years as secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice from 2000-2003.

When Robinson joined the police department in 1952 the role and scope of African American officers was severely restricted. African American officers were not allowed to patrol white neighborhoods or use patrol cars.

“We have lost a true pioneer in the history of the Baltimore Police Department,” said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. “His legacy is one of service and continues to be a source of inspiration for officers today. I sit here in this position as a result of his strong leadership as a trailblazer. I’m humbled by this giant of a man, a police leader.”

City Council President Jack Young said Baltimore suffered a deep loss with Robinson’s passing. “Commissioner Robinson was a pioneer in the field of public safety and Baltimoreans benefited from his tireless efforts to improve our city. His successes inspired countless men and women to dedicate their lives to public service.”

Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke remembered Robinson as a strong department leader who went on to serve in civic life as well. “He broke the racial barriers in the police department and he did it with strength and great dignity,” she said. “He was a very strong leader in that department and very highly respected. He will be missed.”

Commissioner Robinson was one of the founding members of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).

NOBLE is recognized as one of the nations largest and most effective public service organizations dedicated to serving the law enforcement needs of African American communities.

Robinson’s enduring legacy is further enhanced by the public justice institute at Coppin State University that bears his name.