Statues, especially those with Civil War derivations, have become government issues in many areas throughout the United States.There are at least 700 of these statutes in existence. Some are no longer standing, but are awaiting relocation or some other fate.
Baltimore City is a part of the affected cities. In Baltimore City, Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered three very prominent, offensive monuments taken down under the cover of night. There seems to be no plan for relocation, and the mayor has appointed a group of city bureaucrats to determine the fate of these monuments. Government has dominated all actions regarding this divisive issue. Perhaps citizen input prior to action would have worked better in a democracy. But perhaps not in Baltimore City.
Understandably, the mayor wanted to avoid demonstrations and violence. This fact is well known and documented. The mayor’s action was desirable rather than other possible outcomes. It also prevents such measures as melting the statues down, as advocated by Councilman Brandon Scott and many members of an inexperienced City Council.
Perhaps it would be an interesting idea to erect new statutes recognizing Baltimore leaders in the Twentieth Century. This group could include Mayor William Donald Schaefer, Mayor KurtSchmoke, SenatorBarbara Mikulski, and Justice Thurgood Marshall. Another possibility would be Ella Bailey who, in 1943, became the first elected woman to the Baltimore City Council.
But what should we do with the removed statues?In order to not ignore history and our involvement in the Civil War, the grounds of the Maryland Historical Society (MHS)may be an appropriate location for discussing their places in history. Totally erasing history will serve neither the current residents nor visitors to Baltimore City.This is a sensible and viable solution to a sticky issue in today’s America. The expertise of the MHS would be of value when providing accurate, inclusive interpretation of these monuments and their actual history.
It was the philosopher George Santayana who wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We all need to understand our history, warts included. This is especially true for some 80,000 students in Baltimore City schools.
Politics are beginning to heat up in the city, with the state’s attorney race already receiving significant attention. Marilyn Mosby, the incumbent state’s attorney in her first term, has been a controversial figure, having disagreements with Police Commissioner Davis and Governor Hogan. She will undoubtedly have several opponents in the Democratic primary election.
Amidst negative press, there continue to be positive developments in Baltimore City, including the growth of the technology industry, cybersecurity, and increases in health care services. These trends have implications and can influence the direction of the Baltimore City school system as it assists with the preparation of students for jobs of the future. That is quite a challenge and one in which the school system must make real progress.
Both Johns Hopkins’ and the University of Maryland’s health services continue to grow, expanding in the city and creating more jobs. It makes one wonder about the real influence these large health care systems have on political decisions made in Baltimore’s City Hall.This same concern should apply to the technology and cybersecurity industries as they grow and become more involved in governmental issues affecting Baltimore City. Baltimore City government must understand that technology can innovate faster than government can regulate.
Baltimore City can have a bright, viable future, but it will not be easily achieved. It will take all of us being involved to make this future a reality. There are many areas where the city can definitely make progress: public safety, education, and jobs.
Should these factors fail, the city, as an entity, will fail. Should real and demonstrable progress be attained, the city will thrive and enjoy success.
Progress will be made if the city government makes informed decisions and allows the private sector to be involved. Our immediate future may will affect the city’s fate.
Carpe Diem, Baltimore.