Bridget Armstrong | WYPR

Bridget Armstrong

Bridget no longer works for Midday at WYPR.

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.

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.

Monday, the 19th of June, is Juneteenth, the day that commemorates June 19, 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, TX were informed by Union soldiers that slavery was legally over, months after the end of the Civil War and more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln. Juneteenth is one of the most widely celebrated emancipation days in the country. It’s officially recognized in 45 states; Maryland became the 43rd state in 2014. Today a conversation about Juneteenth. What’s the historical significance of the day and as we reflect, how does it inform our understanding of slavery and the reconstruction era?  What was life like for African Americans as they transitioned from bondage to freedom? 

Tom is joined by Dr. Terry Anne Scott; she’s an assistant professor of History at Hood College in Frederick. Also joining are B. Cole and Aisha Pew, entrepreneurs and the owners of the Dovecote Café in Baltimore, and the leaders of Brioxy, a network of innovative people of color who are creating economic opportunity for themselves and others. This weekend they’re hosting a Juneteenth Home and Garden tour in their Reservoir Hill neighborhood.  

David Spence of David Spence Photography

Theater Critic J. Wynn Rousuck returns to Midday with her weekly review of a regional production. This week, she’s talking about Fred’s Diner at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick, MD. The new dark comedy by award-winning playwright Penelope Skinner transports the audience to an American Diner on an English motorway, brimming with captivating characters and deadly secrets. After premiering London, this is the 2nd time the play has been produced in the U.S. and first time it's been produced on the East Coast. Fred’s Diner is directed by Peter Wray, and runs through June 18th, 2017.  

Former FBI Director James Comey was center stage yesterday in public and classified appearances before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Following Comey's public testimony, President Trump’s private lawyer pronounced the President vindicated. The President himself tweeted the same thing this morning. Many observers, however, disagree. Partisanship was by no means absent during Comey’s testimony. Like beauty, Obstruction of Justice is in the eye of the beholder.  The cloud of scandal hovering over the Trump administration is perhaps murkier than ever.  

Philip Montgomery for The New York Times

Today another installment of the Midday Culture Connection with Dr. Sheri Parks of the University of Maryland, College Park. Presidential senior advisor and first son-in-law Jared Kushner’s meeting with a Russian banker back in December is the subject of a federal and congressional investigation. ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis conducted his own investigation into Kushner that hits closer to home. Kushner Companies owns and operates 15 apartment complexes in the Baltimore area. Although Kushner stepped down as CEO in January he’s still a stakeholder, with a share of the company estimated to be worth at least $600 million. 

 

Jury selection begins today in the trial of police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who is accused of second degree manslaughter in the death of a 32-year-old African-American cafeteria supervisor named Philando Castile. Yanez shot Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota last July. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live streamed video of the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook. According to prosecutors, Castile had a gun in his pocket that he was licensed to carry. They say when he told Yanez about the gun before trying to pull out his driver's license Yanez warned Castile three times not to remove the gun, to which Castile repeatedly responded that he was not going for his weapon,. Prosecutors say when Castile reached for his license, Yanez shot him.

The start of this trial comes on the heels of an acquittal earlier this month in the trial of another officer, Betty Jo Shelby in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was found not guilty in the death of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black motorist whose shooting was captured on a video taken by police in a helicopter. In both of these cases, the encounters between these motorists and police lasted a very short time, but the ramifications of the legal decisions in these and other cases will last for the foreseeable future.  

Doug Mills/NY Times

(Originally broadcast on May 17, 2017)

Our country is becoming much more diverse.  In thirty years, it's estimated that people of color will outnumber non-Latino white Americans. Are our newsrooms representative of our increasingly diverse nation? It’s a question that news organizations are grappling with across the country. Last month, NPR’s Ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen published a report that said that in 2016, of the 350 employees in the NPR news division 75.4 percent were white. In the commentary Jensen wrote "There's simply no way around it: If the goal is to increase diversity in the newsroom, last year's was a disappointing showing” 

Last December, New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd published a frank piece about the lack of diversity in their newsroom. Of course, NPR and the New York Times are not alone. In 2014, minorities made up 22 percent of television journalists, 13 percent of radio journalists, and 13 percent of journalists at daily newspapers. That’s according to the Radio Television Digital News Association and the American Society of News Editors. People of color make up about 15% of the programming staff at WYPR.

Photo courtesy Bowie State University

It's the Midday News Wrap, our regular Friday review of the week's top local, national and international news. This week, as headlines focused on President Trump's first foreign trip, his 2018 budget proposal, and on the continuing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, the nation was stunned by news of the May 20 stabbing death of Bowie State University student Richard Collins III.  The 23 year-old Collins, who had just been commissioned as a US Army lieutenant, was murdered by a University of Maryland/College Park student, who has been identified as a member of a white supremacist hate group on Facebook. How is the community responding to this tragedy, and what are school officials doing to address rising concerns about racially motivated attacks on their campus? Joining Tom on today's NewsWrap panel to discuss these and other issues in the news this week are Kamau High, managing editor of the Afro-American Newspaper and Dr. Kaye Wise Whitehead, an associate professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland, and the author of “Letters to My Black Sons: Raising Boys in a Post-Racial America.”

Yesterday, President Trump issued a budget plan that proposes dramatic cuts to Medicaid and other programs like SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often referred to as food stamps. Despite campaign promises to the contrary, the president wants to reduce Medicaid spending over 10 years by as much as $1.4 trillion according to some estimates. The Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides healthcare support under Medicaid to low income children, would be cut by 20% in the first year alone. This of course comes after House Republicans passed a health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act earlier this month. Some in the Senate have vowed to start over, rather than work with the House bill as they craft their own. 

What could these cuts mean for the most vulnerable folks living in our city who rely on programs like Medicaid and food stamps to survive? Tom is joined by Dr. Leana Wen, the Health Commissioner of the city of Baltimore, for the Midday Healthwatch. 

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump spent a year on the campaign trail saying terrible things about Muslims and NATO. He railed against Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information. He even had bad things to say about the Pope.  

He leaves today to meet with leaders of Saudi Arabia, NATO, and Israel, whose trust he abused when he revealed secrets Israel had collected, to Russian diplomats. He’ll also meet with the Pope.  

Meanwhile, computers across the globe were paralyzed by ransomware, a white police officer was acquitted in Oklahoma after shooting an unarmed black man during a traffic stop, and layoffs are imminent in the Baltimore City Schools.  

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Everyman Theatre is wrapping up its 26th season with the raucous British comedy Noises Off. Everyman’s Resident Company of actors transforms into a bumbling British company of actors just hours away from their opening night. Everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. Between the lost lines and love triangles pandemonium takes over before intermission. 

Vincent Lancisi is Everyman’s Founder and Artistic Director. He also directs this production. Deborah Hazlett stars in the role of Dotty Otley. They join Tom for a preview of Noises Off.

MD GovPics/Jay Baker

On Saturday, all eyes will be on the Pimlico race track for the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes.  As the sports world bends its gaze to the aging track in Northwest Baltimore, track owners and local leaders are considering the future of Pimlico.

Almost everyone agrees that the track needs an upgrade. Will it take a facelift, or a complete tear-down and re-build to assure that the second leg of the triple crown stays in Charm City? Or, will the Preakness move to Laurel, MD? What’s at stake, with the Preakness stakes? Sandy Rosenberg, who represents Baltimore City in the House of Delegates, and WYPR reporter Karen Hosler join Tom to talk ponies and politics.     

Doug Mills/NY Times

Our country is becoming much more diverse. People of color will outnumber non-Latino, white Americans in 30 years. Are our newsrooms representative of our increasingly diverse nation? It’s a question that news organizations are grappling with across the country. Last month, NPR’s Ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen published a report that said that in 2016, of the 350 employees in the NPR news division 75.4 percent were white. In the commentary Jensen wrote "There's simply no way around it: If the goal is to increase diversity in the newsroom, last year's was a disappointing showing” 

Last December, New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd published a frank piece about the lack of diversity in their newsroom. Of course NPR and the New York Times are not alone. In 2014, minorities made up 22 percent of television journalists, 13 percent of radio journalists, and 13 percent of journalists at daily newspapers. That’s according to the Radio Television Digital News Association and the American Society of News Editors. People of color make up about 15% of the programming staff at WYPR.

Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

We begin with President Trump’s stunning decision to fire FBI Director James Comey earlier this week. Initially, the White House said Comey’s dismissal came at the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt the President said his decision to fire Comey came before the recommendation. Democrats aren’t buying it and say Comey was fired because of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

John Fritze is the Washington Correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. Julie Rovner is the chief Washington Correspondent for Kaiser Health News. Prior to her role at Kaiser, Julie covered health policy for NPR for 16 years. Dr. Terry Anne Scott is an assistant professor of History at Hood College in Frederick. They join guest host Nathan Sterner to weigh in on Comey and the White House and other news of the week. 

Sheri Parks/D.Watkins

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. 

Getty Images

Today a conversation with a panel of activists and community leaders as we continue to reflect on the 2015 violence and Uprising sparked by the death of Freddie Gray. Last year The Department of Justice issued a report detailing widespread misconduct and unconstitutional practices within the Baltimore Police Department. The city signed a consent decree with the DOJ and city leaders have vowed to reform the department.

Will those reforms be enough to build trust between police and communities of color? Two years after the Uprising, are residents seeing any differences in their communities? 

Kids Safe Zone

Following the 2015 Uprising, everyone from politicians to activists pointed to issues of systematic racism and inequality as the cause of the unrest. Today as we reflect on the 2 years since the Uprising sparked by the death of Freddie Gray we’ll check in with two activists who lead non-profits to talk about the work they’re doing and the work the city has ahead to achieve equity. 

Ericka Alston Buck is the CEO of Maryland Community Health Initiatives Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides several services based programs in the Penn North Community, including the Kids Safe Zone and the Penn North Community Resource Center.

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