Bridget Armstrong | WYPR

Bridget Armstrong

Producer, Midday

Bridget Armstrong is a producer for Midday hosted by Tom Hall. She joined the WYPR team as a producer of Maryland Morning in March 2016. Before coming to WYPR, she worked for SiriusXM and prior to that, at NPR.  While at NPR, Bridget worked on the 2014 Elections Desk and Tell Me More hosted by Michel Martin, where she produced discussions addressing race, gender and pop-culture.  A true lover of conversation, Bridget also hosted and produced a roundtable podcast. Bridget is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, an Historically Black College.

Photo courtesy Creative Commons

 (We originally aired this program on June 28, 2017.)

There's no shortage of think pieces exploring the ways Millennials -- that is, folks born between 1981 and 1996 -- differ from older generations. Those pieces often describe a generation of entitled, lazy, participation-trophy babies.  But some experts say that perception is wrong and reflects our society's misunderstanding of Millennials and their relationship with technology. 

James VanRensselaer Homewood Photography

(We originally aired this program on June 20, 2017.)  

Last month (May 2017), the stabbing death of Bowie State University student and 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III grabbed national headlines, and left students and faculty wondering how the frightening and tragic incident could have happened on a college campus. Collins, who was black, was stabbed on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park by UMd student Sean Urbanski. Urbanski, who’s white, was a member of an online hate group that shared bigoted memes and messages. While Urbanski has not been charged with a hate crime, students of color at UMd say Collins’ death is not an isolated incident and that racial climate on campus is fraught with bias and bigotry. In early May, a noose was found hanging in UMd frat house. 

Penguin Random House

“Do black lives matter to the courts?” It’s the question raised time and time again when unarmed black men are killed by police and the officers are either not indicted, or not convicted. It’s the question raised by NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill in a new collection of essays called Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution and Imprisonment.

Professor Angela J. Davis is the collection's editor. She's a law professor at American University's Washington College of Law. She's also the author of several books, including Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor.

Sherrilyn Ifill, with her colleague Jin Hee Lee, co-wrote the essay in Policing the Black Man,  titled "Do Black Lives Matter to the Courts?" Sherrilyn is also the author of On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century

Nina Subin

(This program originally aired January 18, 2017)  

This week, we are taking a look back at the Presidency of Barack Obama. Tom is joined by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a searing provocateur whose unstinting critique of the historic nature of Obama’s tenure includes what he considers to be the missed opportunities to advance the cause of racial equality. One of Dyson’s chief criticisms is the President’s reluctance to hold white people at least partially responsible for black suffering.  

In his latest book, Tears We Cannot Stop: A  Sermon to White America, Dyson argues that the responsibility lies not just with uninformed bigots, but with people who may consider themselves enlightened and fair-minded, but who can’t accept the truth of racial history.  < Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is a sociology professor at Georgetown University. He is the author of 18 other books, including The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America.

Penguin Random House

(This program originally aired on April 18, 2017)

Tom is joined today by Nigerian author, essayist and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She splits her time between her native country Nigeria and the US, where she has a home in Columbia, Maryland. She's won several prestigious awards, including the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She's headlining the 2017 Baltimore CityLit Festival later this month. That’s an annual event sponsored by the CityLit Project, an organization that advances the cause of all things literary here in Maryland.

Cover art courtesy Little, Brown and Co., Publisher

(This program originally aired March 13, 2017)

Their names are familiar: Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice...and others.   Young, unarmed black men killed by police. Their common, tragic fates and what led to them are the focus of Tom's conversation today with Wesley Lowery.

Lowery is a Washington Post reporter who’s been on the ground covering incidents of police violence since protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown.

Lowery’s new book examines law enforcement culture and the legacy of unconstitutional treatment of African-Americans that continues to seed mistrust between police and communities of color. 

“For most white Americans," Lowery tells Tom, "the police are someone you call when you are in trouble. For most black and brown Americans, the police are an oppressive force, who they see as harassing them and interacting with them in ways that could lead to them being dead.”

A Midday Special Edition: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wesley Lowery on his new book, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era of America’s Racial Justice Movement. 

This program was pre-recorded, so we didn't take any phone calls.  If you want to comment on the show, you can tweet us @middaytomhall, or write to us at midday@wypr.org or on Midday's Facebook page. 

Courtesy of Rollin Hu

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh moved quickly and quietly early Wednesday morning to have the city's four Confederate monuments removed from their pedestals, in response to the weekend violence in Charlottesville and concerns that conflicts over the statues could threaten public safety.  

Tom speaks with filmmaker and arts curator Elissa Blount Moorhead about the mayor's decision. Moorhead is a filmmaker and partner at TNEG Films. She is also an Incubator Fellow at the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film & Media at Johns Hopkins.  She recently directed a short film for Jay Z called 4:44.

In September of 2015, then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake appointed Moorhead and several other people to a commission to make recommendations about what to do with the four monuments. In August 2016, the commission recommended the city remove two of Baltimore's confederate statues— the Roger B. Taney Monument on Mount Vernon Place and the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell. The commission recommended the placement of contextual signage at the two other monuments: the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue and the Confederate Women's Monument on West University Parkway.

Center Stage

 

In the 24 hours since our last broadcast, we’ve witnessed the horrifying spectacle of the President vigorously defending White Supremacists by equating their actions in Charlottesville, VA last weekend with the actions of counter protesters. It appears that the anodyne remarks the President made on Saturday more closely reflected his true feelings, which appear to have been exposed yesterday. Also, overnight, following a Monday night vote of the City Council, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh had four controversial Confederate monuments removed from their pedestals.    

Tom is joined by Kwame Kwei-Armah, OBE, the Artistic Director of Baltimore Center Stage. As a playwright, essayist, performer and director, he knows a lot about acting, truth-telling, staging and symbolism. At the end of this season, he’ll leave Center Stage to pursue other projects, and he will leave it a much different place than it was when he arrived in 2011. Kwame Kwei-Armah is no stranger to the power of stage and symbolism.  He talks with Tom about the Confederate monuments: what they mean, and what their absence means.

Photo By Kathleen Cahill

Today , a conversation about  mandatory minimums and monuments.

Last night, the Baltimore City Council narrowly passed a preliminary measure related to a bill that at one time could have meant a mandatory jail term for anyone with an illegal gun.  The debate has reopened a conversation about the role of judges, and the best ways to make our streets safer.  Tom speaks with two councilmen who are on opposite sides of this issue: Eric Costello, who voted for it, and Brandon Scott, who opposed it. 

And as the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, continues to stir national concerns about an emboldened white supremacy movement in America, Tom also talks to both city leaders about the fate of four Confederate monuments in the city's Mt Vernon, Bolton Hill and Charles Village neighborhoods.

Courtesy of Hari Kondabolu

Tom's guest is Hari Kondabolu, the comedian/satirist and co-host of the popular podcast "Politically Re-Active" with fellow comedian W. Kamau Bell.

Their show focuses on what they call "the dumpster fire that is the U.S. political landscape" with leading activists and writers.

A major draw on the nationwide standup comedy circuit and a regular on late-night TV talk shows, Hari's latest stand-up album (available via digital download) is called Hari Kondabolu's New Material Night, Volume 1 , which was recorded live in San Francisco in 2013.

Ahead of his two upcoming shows at The Creative Alliance in East Baltimore on Sunday August 27th, at 7:30 and 9:00pm, Hari joins Tom on the line to talk about racism, rebel statues and living in Donald Trump's America.   

Photo courtesy CBS Sports

We begin with a conversation about the horrific events that took place in Charlottesville, Va.  over the weekend which resulted in the death of one woman and two VA state troopers.  Many were injured, and brazenness about racist and hateful rhetoric is alive and well.  White nationalists succeeded in shining a bright spotlight on themselves in Charlottesville.  The president of the United States has said little to dim that light, drawing severe criticism from, as he might say, many, many sides.  Dr. Nathan Connolly, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University, joins Tom to reflect on Charlottesville and its aftermath.

Tom speaks with Senator Ben Cardin, the senior senator from Maryland and ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, about President Trump's  escalating war of words with North Korea. This conversation was recorded on Thursday morning.  At that time, President Trump had already talked about the "fire and fury" of a response to North Korea should they initiate hostilities. This morning, the President tweeted that the US military was "locked and loaded" with military solutions should North Korea act "unwisely." The President appears to be implying that he’s ordered some sort of new military plan for North Korea.  Most military observers doubt that American preparedness for a conflict with North Korea is, in fact, substantially different than it has been for some time. 

Baltimore City Government

On Wednesday Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh released her plan for curbing the spike in violence in the city. Her violence reduction plan takes a holistic approach to fighting crime.  The mayor wants more training for police officers, increased access to housing and jobs, and free community college for Baltimore city public school graduates. Critics say the Mayor’s plan lacks accountability and measurable goals. 

Dominique Maria Bonessi is WYPR's City Hall reporter.

Edward Jackson is a professor of criminal justice at Baltimore City Community College. He’s also a former Baltimore City Police Department Colonel, who retired from the department in 2004. He was recently appointed by Mayor Pugh to Baltimore City’s Community Oversight Task Force. 

They join Tom to discuss the mayor crime plan and a crime reduction plan put forth by the city council's public safety committee led by 2nd district councilman Brandon Scott. 

Baltimore’s annual festival that celebrates African American art, music and culture, known as AFRAM, takes place tomorrow at Druid Hill Park.  The festival is in its 41st year and free to the public. It features performances from local artists, interactive exhibits, children’s activities, as well as job training and health and wellness information.

Afra White, the planner of AFRAM festival, joins us on the line from City Hall today. She’s the director of external affairs for the Office of the Mayor. The Baltimore festival is presented this year by Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and the City of Baltimore with the support of the advisory board and steering committee.

This week the American Visionary Art Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The museum highlights the work of so-called “outsider” artists as many of the artists are self-taught visionaries. Back in the early 90s now-retired Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski spearheaded a movement to pass a resolution in Congress that made the American Visionary Art Museum an official national museum. For more than two decades the museum has served as an education center and repository for intuitive, self-taught artistry. The founder and director of AVAM, Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, joins us today in Studio A to talk about the museum and its current exhibits. 

Today, a conversation with a man who has filed or joined more than half a dozen cases against the Trump Administration: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. Mr. Frosh is a Democrat who was elected in 2014, after serving for 28 years on the Maryland General Assembly.

Earlier this year, to the chagrin of the Governor, the general assembly gave the Attorney General’s office the authority to sue the Trump administration without Governor Larry Hogan’s permission. Back in March, Maryland joined the state of Washington in a lawsuit against the second travel ban.  Maryland also filed a lawsuit with the District of Columbia alleging that President Trump violated anti-corruption clauses in the constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments after he took office. Attorney General Frosh pushed back against president Trump’s voter fraud commission, saying that the commission only exists to “indulge Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote.” He also called the commissions’ request for voter data “repugnant.” The lawsuits of course are not without critics. Republican state lawmakers accused the Attorney General of “grandstanding,” saying that he’s exploiting his political power to go after President Trump.

Closer to home, Attorney General Frosh has spoken out about criminal justice reform. In an opinion issued last year, he told state lawmakers that our cash bail system is unconstitutional. Mr. Frosh joins Tom to talk law, respond to comments, and field all of your burning questions.

There’s a new top librarian in Baltimore. Heidi Daniel took over as President and CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library this week after longtime president Carla Hayden left last year to lead the Library of Congress. Heidi comes to Baltimore from Youngstown, Ohio, where she oversaw 15 branch libraries. Prior to Youngstown, she worked at both the Houston Public Library and the Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma City.

The library’s central branch is already undergoing a major renovation, so what else is new at the Pratt? These days, a library is much more than a place you go to check out a book, and that’s especially true of the libraries in Baltimore, which often serve as resources and safe havens for children and families. The Enoch Pratt library offers legal advice from an onsite lawyer, after school programs and job placement assistance among other services. Heidi Daniel joins us to talk about some of these programs and her vision for the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Check out Heidi's book recommendations for kids.

Credit Courtesy of Dr. Brittney C. Cooper

Today, another installment of the Midday Culture Connection with Dr. Sheri Parks of the University of Maryland.

Sheri is an Associate Dean for Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Programming at the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland College Park, where she is also an Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies.  She’s the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.

We’re joined by Dr. Brittney Cooper, an assistant professor of women and gender studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University in Brunswick, New Jersey. She is also the author of a new book called Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women.

Dr. Cooper’s book explores the history of black women as intellectuals. The 19th and 20th century “Race Women” she tells us about are often thought of as activists rather than public intellectuals. Their scholarship and achievements are often overshadowed by the work of Black men like W.E.B Dubois, Frederick Douglas and others, as well as the writing and activism of white feminists. 

A little later in the program,  Tom is joined by Ellen Gee, a contemporary Race Woman, who is one of the organizers behind the Baltimore Ceasefire, an attempt to put a stop to the onslaught of violence that has plagued Baltimore, particularly since the death of Freddie Gray in 2015. She and other organizers are calling for no violence in our city for 72 hours, beginning this weekend.

Baltimore Sun

On Tuesday, a very heated City Council public committee hearing on a bill that proposed a mandatory one-year sentence for people caught carrying illegal handguns erupted into chaos and confusion when several area university representatives were invited to testify before members of the public who had been waiting to speak for hours. Two people were arrested in a confrontation with police in the chamber.

Television Academy

The Emmy nominations are in. Saturday Night Live and HBO’s Westworld racked up 22 nominations a piece, while other popular newcomers like HBO’s Insecure were left off the list. With so many high quality options for viewers on television and on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, are we entering a golden age of television?  The Emmy awards will air in September, today Bridget Armstrong, sitting in for Tom Hall, dishes about the television hits and misses of the season with her TV-talking partner, WYPR digital producer Jamyla Krempel

Radha Blank also joins the conversation. She’s a playwright, performer and screenwriter. She's written for Empire on Fox, Netflix’s The Get Down and most recently she worked as a writer and co-producer for Spike Lee’s latest series She's Gotta Have It which premieres on Netflix this Thanksgiving.

Courtesy Washington Post

We have seen the videos from cell phones, surveillance footage and police cameras. In the moments before and sometimes after police shootings of black people, it sounds like the police and the black people are speaking from completely different social realities. The shootings are the horrific tip of an iceberg. According to a GenForward survey done by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, two-thirds of African-Americans under the age of 30 say they or someone they know has experienced violence or harassment at the hands of the police. Twenty-four percent of black men between 18 and 34 report that they have been mistreated by the police in the last 30 days, according to a Gallup poll

Getty

On this Fête Nationale in France, President Trump has completed a quick trip to Paris where he visited Napoleon’s tomb, dined at the Eiffel Tower, viewed a military parade on the Champs Élysées, and got to know his younger French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, a little better.

He made inappropriate remarks about the body of the first lady of France, but gone were disparaging remarks about how no one was going to visit Paris anymore. He promised to return, and Macron assured Mr. Trump that he was welcome any time.

Penguin Random House

“Do Black Lives Matter to the Courts?” It’s a question raised time and time again when unarmed black men are killed by police and the officers are either not indicted, or not convicted. It’s a question raised by NAACP Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill in a new collection of essays called Policing the Black Man: Arrest Prosecution and Imprisonment.

Professor Angela J. Davis is the editor of Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution and Imprisonment. She's a law professor at American University's Washington College of Law. She's also the author of several books including Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor.

Sherrilyn Ifill is the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She  co-wrote the essay in Policing the Black Man with her colleague Jin Hee Lee "Do Black Lives Matter to the Courts?" Sherrilyn is the author of On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century

Sheri Parks/D.Watkins

This program originally aired on May 2, 2017. 

Today another installment of Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks of the University of Maryland. Author D. Watkins joins as we continue to reflect on the 2015 Uprising sparked by the death of Freddie Gray. D. co-hosts Undisclosed, a podcast that re-examines Freddie Gray’s death. 

Jeremy Daniel

Thursdays are for theater here at Midday, and theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck is here as always to review a local production. This week, she's discussing "Finding Neverland" at the Hippodrome Theatre. Directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus, "Finding Neverland" delves into the life of J.M. Barrie, the creator of one of the world's most beloved stories, Peter Pan. Barrie's relentless battle to find inspiration for a new play leads him to a single mother and her four children, whose imaginative spirits shape Barrie's stories and awaken his inner child.

"Finding Neverland" runs at the Hippodrome through July 2, 2017. 

Photo courtesy Creative Commons

There's no shortage of think pieces exploring the ways Millennials, that is - folks born between 1981 and 1996, differ from older generations. Those pieces often paint a picture of a generation of entitled, lazy, participation trophy babies, but some experts say that perception is wrong and informed by our society's misunderstanding of Millennials and their relationships to technology. 

Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Last month, the Sinclair Broadcasting Group purchased dozens of TV stations from Tribune Media in a $3.9 billion deal. Based in Hunt Valley, Sinclair operates over 200 local television stations across the country. With their latest acquisition, Sinclair now holds stations in seven of the nation’s 10 biggest markets. The owners of Sinclair appear to lean conservative, as evidenced by the station’s robust and unchecked broadcasts of Donald Trump’s interviews throughout his presidential campaign. Sinclair’s conservative slant has left Washington insiders wondering whether Sinclair is trying to give Fox News a run for its money.

Tom is joined by David Folkenflik, the media correspondent for NPR and author of Murdoch's World: The Last of the Old Media Empires; and Hadas Gold, a reporter covering media and politics for POLITICO. 

Senate Republicans unveiled their health care bill yesterday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says there will be a vote next week. Democrats are predictably, not happy, citing the bill’s deep cuts to the Medicaid program. Senator Chuck Schumer called the bill heartless. At least four republican senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson have said they hope to get to yes, but they’re not there yet.

Former Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of all charges in connection to the 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile during a traffic stop. Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds live streamed on Facebook the moments immediately after he was shot. A dashcam video of the shooting was released after the verdict, but it's left many people wondering how the officer was acquitted? 

Members of post-punk band Natural Velvet join Tom in-studio to talk about their latest album Mirror to Make YouThree of the four members of the Baltimore based band attended Maryland Institute College of Art. Their latest album, the second released on Friends Records, takes on feminine rage and what it means to be a feminist and independent thinker. 

Corynne Ostermann is the band's lead vocalist and bassist. Spike Arreaga is a gutiarist. They join Tom to talk about their new music and the process of creating an album.

James VanRensselaer Homewood Photography

Last month, the stabbing death of Bowie State University student 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III grabbed national headlines and left students and faculty wondering how the frightening and tragic incident could happen on a college campus. Collins, who was black, was stabbed on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park by UMD student Sean Urbanski. Urbanski, who’s white, was a member of an online hate group that shared bigoted memes and messages. While Urbanski has not been charged with a hate crime, students of color at UMD say Collins’ death is not an isolated incident and that racial climate on campus is fraught with bias and bigotry. In early May a noose was found hanging in UMD frat house. 

College Park is not the only campus battling bigotry. Last month, bananas hung by nooses were found on the campus of American University in Washington, DC. Harvard, Columbia, Dartmouth and other universities across the country have reported dozens of incidents of bias in recent months.   Some scholars have observed that racism on predominantly white college campuses is as old as the universities themselves.  Tom is joined by Lawrence Ross, the author of several books including The Divine Nine:The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities. His latest is called Blackballed:The Black and White Politics of Race on America's Campuses. He is a frequent contributor to TheRoot.com.

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