Tom Hall | WYPR

Tom Hall

Host

Host, Midday  (M-F 12:00-1:00)

In the Bromo (3rd Friday of the month at 4:44)
What are You Reading? (4th Friday of the month, at 4:44) 

Tom Hall joined the WYPR staff as the Host of Choral Arts Classics in 2003.  After 10 years as the Culture Editor and then host of Maryland Morning, in September, 2016, Tom became the host of Midday, the highly rated news and public policy program that features interviews with elected officials, community leaders, and thought provoking authors, artists, researchers, journalists, and scholars from around the world. 

Tom is also the Host of In the Bromo and What Are You Reading? on WYPR.  In addition, he has served as the host of the Maryland Morning Screen Test, and the WYPR/MD Film Festival Spotlight Series.  In 2006, as the Music Director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Tom received an Emmy Award for Christmas with Choral Arts, a special that aired on WMAR television, the ABC affiliate in Maryland, for 21 years.  He has been a guest co-host of Maryland Public Television’s Art Works, and in 2007, he was named “Best New Broadcast Journalist” by the Maryland Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2009, the Baltimore City Paper named him "Best Local Radio Personality." In 2016 and again in 2017, he was recognized as "Best Talk Show Host" in the Baltimore Magazine Reader's Poll. 

Tom is invited frequently to speak to professional and community organizations, including the Oregon Bach Festival, the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, the College Endowment Association, the Baltimore Broadcaster’s Coalition, The Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute, the Johns Hopkins Community Conversations Series, and the Creative Alliance.  He has moderated panels and given presentations at the Baltimore City Lit Festival, the Baltimore Book Festival, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, the University of Maryland, the Enoch Pratt Library, and MICA. He has also moderated Mayoral Debates, panels at Light City in Baltimore, and at the Stevenson University Speakers Series.

He appears each year as the moderator of the Rosenberg-Blaustein Distinguished Artist Recital Series at Goucher College.  His publications include articles in the Baltimore Sun, Style Magazine, and Baltimore Magazine, as well as many scholarly music journals, and he is the co-author of The Bach Passions in Our Time:  Contending with the Legacy of Antisemitism, published on-line by the Institute for Islamic Christian and Jewish Studies.  Tom was appointed the Music Director Emeritus of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in 2017.

Tom Hall lives in Baltimore, with his wife, Linell Smith.  Their daughter, Miranda, is a playwright.

:Photo courtesy The Union newspaper (CA)

Today a conversation about the interplay of music and medicine.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic degenerative brain disorder that affects about 3% of people over the age of 60.  That’s the average age of people who develop the disease, but Parkinson’s has been diagnosed in people as young as 18.  

The Parkinson’s Association reports that about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease every year.  There may be as many as 7-10 million people living with Parkinson’s world-wide.

There’s a story in the Baltimore Sun by Andrea McDaniels that describes how some patients use boxing to help stave-off the tremors and balance problems they experience.  And, there is some encouraging research that indicates that music may also be a helpful tool in treating the devastating symptoms of this pernicious disease. 

Dr. Zoltan Mari is the director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas and the head of the Nevada Movement Disorders Program.  He joins us on the phone from his office in Las Vegas.

Dr. Alexander Pantelyat joins us here in Studio A. He’s an assistant professor of neurology, and the co-founder and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine, a research and treatment initiative with the Peabody Institute.   As you can see in this brief clip produced by the Baltimore SunDr. Pantelyat is also an accomplished violinist.

Carolyn Black-Sotir is here as well.  She’s a singer, actress and journalist.  You may have seen her perform in concerts, or as a host on Maryland Public Television.   She lost both her parents to Parkinson’s Disease, and she has a concert series called the Steinway Series at Silo Hill in Baltimore County that is devoted to raising awareness of, and funding for, research on Parkinson’s Disease.

An outgrowth of Dr. Pantelyat's research at Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine is ParkinSonics, a research study group-turned-community chorus that's open to anyone with PD or atypical Parkinsonism. No musical experience is necessary, and everyone is welcome. Sponsored by the Maryland Association for Parkinson Support, Inc (MAPS), and Johns Hopkins Pacing for Parkinsons Campaign. For more info, email parkinsonics@comcast.net.

Photo by Will Kirk

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck and her weekly review of the region's noteworthy thespian offerings.   Today, she spotlights the new and unusual staging of William Shakespeare's Othello at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.

What's distinctive about this production of the Bard's 1604 tragedy is its use of "Original Pronunciation," or O.P., which employs the sounds and rhythms of the English that actors in Shakespeare's London theaters would have spoken more than 400 years ago.  The cast was trained in the antique dialect by O.P. coach  Ann Turiano.

Directed by Tom Delise, BSF's Othello features Troy Jennings in the title role, Kathryn Zoerb as Desdemona, Ian Blackwell Rogers as Iago, and Jess Behar as Aemelia.

Othello (in Original Pronunciation) continues at the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory through April 29.

Photo Courtesy JHU Sheridan Library

Four days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with more than 100 cities across the country engulfed in riots, Congress passed a landmark piece of legislation known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibiting discrimination in housing based on race, religion, national origin or gender.

Today, a conversation about equality and equity in the housing market, 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson the Fair Housing Act into law.

Tom is joined in Studio A by, Dr. Ray Winbush.  He’s the Director of Institute of Urban Studies at Morgan State University; and joining us from NPR DC is Lisa Rice, the President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance.

Urban Phokis Photography

Todd Marcus is an acclaimed bass clarinetist, composer and arranger.  He’s also a community activist who has lived and worked in the Sandtown- Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore for more than 20 years.

He’s about to release a new CD, inspired by that historic neighborhood, called On These Streets: A Baltimore Story and recorded with a quintet of some of the area’s finest players.  The disc includes compositions that portray the strengths and challenges of Sandtown-Winchester, and its release coincides with the anniversary of the violence and uprising that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray, three years ago Saturday. Todd and his band will be performing a free concert this Fri., Apr. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Harris-Marcus Center on Pennsylvania Ave. in Sandtown. It’s part of an exhibition by Jubilee Arts marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the unrest that followed in Baltimore. On May 20, the Quintet will perform another free concert as part of the Community Concerts at Second series. You can also catch them on June 16 at Center Stage.

Today, a focus on the primary race for Maryland state legislative seats.

A little later in the show today, Josh Kurtz joins Tom. He is the editor and co-founder of Maryland Matters, a website all about Maryland government and politics.  They’ll size up some of the key races for the State Senate and the House of Delegates that will be on the primary ballot in June.

But first, we focus on one of those key races, as we continue our series of "Conversations with the Candidates."  Tom's guests in Studio A are two lawmakers running for the Senate seat in the 43rd District: the incumbent, Sen. Joan Carter Conway and Del. Mary Washington.

Sen. Conway has served as a member of the state Senate representing this district since 1997. In 2007, she became the first African-American woman to be appointed chair of a Maryland Senate standing committee: the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee of which she has been a member for 21 years. She is a former member of the Baltimore City Council. Sen. Conway is 67. She lives in Hillen with her husband, Tim. They are the parents of a grown son and the grandparents of four.

Del. Washington has represented District 43 in the House of Delegates since 2010. She serves on the Ways & Means Committee; she is the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Homelessness; and she is a member of the Joint Committee on Children, Youth and Families, the Regional Revitalization Task Force, and the Tax Credit Evaluation Committee. Del. Washington is 55. She lives in Ednor Gardens with her partner, Professor Jodi Kelber Kaye, and their two sons. 

We streamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  To watch that video, click here The candidates took your questions; we gave priority to listeners who live in District 43.

Photo courtesy Baltimore Sun

Baltimore is one of six US cities now competing for a $30-million federal grant that city planners hope will launch a major redevelopment project in East Baltimore.  More than 1,300 public housing units and a school would be demolished in what could eventually be a $1 billion transformation of a 200-acre tract between Harbor East and Johns Hopkins Hospital, in the Perkins-Somerset-Oldtown neighborhoods -- a part of the city long marked by blight, vacancies and violent crime.  If the Housing and Urban Development grant is awarded to Baltimore this summer and additional financing can be secured, the project could begin as early as next year.    

Perkins Homes, a large public housing complex, as well as City Springs Charter Elementary and Middle School, would be torn down as part of this huge project, which calls for the construction of a new City Springs school complex and more than  2500 new housing units.  But to what extent could current residents be displaced?  And given the history of past redevelopment efforts, could this project lead to more racial segregation and less affordable housing? 

Melody Simmons is a reporter with the Baltimore Business Journal and a veteran observer of the city’s real estate and development scene who has written several articles on the prospective East Baltimore transformation.

Klaus Philipsen is an architect who writes and lectures widely about urban design, city architecture, preservation and transportation issues. He’s the author of Baltimore: Reinventing an Industrial Legacy City, and his commentaries on urban design appear frequently on his blog, Community Architect.

They join Tom in the Midday studio, and answer listener calls, emails and tweets.   

This segment was streamed live on WYPR Facebook page; you can watch the video here.

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26th primary ballot here in Maryland.

Tom's guest is Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Jr. He is one of nine Democrats running for Governor on the ballot this June. The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election in November.

Unlike several of his Democratic opponents, Sen. Madaleno is not a political outsider. He has represented Montgomery County in the MD Legislature for more than 15 years -- first in the House of Delegates and, since 2007, in the State Senate. Since 2015, he has been Vice-Chair of the powerful Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. He is the first openly gay person elected to the MD House of Delegates and the State Senate. If elected, he would be the first openly gay governor of any state in America.

His running mate is Luwanda W. Jenkins, a Baltimore native and business executive who served in the administrations of Maryland’s last three Democratic governors -- O’Malley, Glendening & Schaefer. 

Sen. Madaleno also took your questions, emails and tweets.  Like all of Midday's Conversations with the Candidates, this program was streamed live on the WYPR FB page. Check out the video here.

Photo Courtesy www.brittneycooper.com

Tom speaks with Dr. Brittney Cooper about her latest book, Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower; a trenchantly argued and provocative look at the status, expectations, and barriers that Black women face in contemporary American society.  

Dr. Brittney Cooper is a professor of women and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, and a columnist for Cosmopolitan  Magazine.

Photo by David D. Mitchell

It's Thursday, and Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her weekly review of a production lighting up one the region's many stages. Today, it's Hoodoo Love, a bluesy play (and one of the earliest works) by Katori Hall, being produced by Baltimore's Arena Players, the oldest continuously operating African American community theater in the United States.

Arena Players calls Hoodoo Love "a tale of love, magic , jealousy and secrets in...1930s Mississippi and Memphis. It is a blues story about having your dreams realized."  Reviewing its premiere in New York's West Village in October 2007, New York Times theater critic Stuart Miller described the play as "an unsentimental, even brutal look at black life in Memphis in the 1930s, the central female characters burdened by rape and betrayal."

One of Hoodoo Love's central female characters is Toulou, a young woman who fled an abusive family and the cotton fields of Mississippi to pursue her dream of becoming a blues singer.

“I love my people’s history,” playwright Katori Hall told the Times back in 2007.  Hall, who studied African-American culture and creative writing at Columbia University, added, “I feel a huge responsibility to tell the stories of my past and my ancestors’ past.”

Director David D. Mitchell leads the Arena Players cast, which features IO Browne (Toulou), Theresa Terry (Candylady), Quinton Randall (Ace of Spades) and Quincy Vicks (Jib).

Hoodoo Love is at Arena Playhouse, 801 McCulloh St., Baltimore MD 21201, through Sunday, April 29.   Tix and info here.

photo courtesy Jay Heinrichs

Tom's guest for the hour today is Jay Heinrichsan author, lecturer, and consultant in the art (and science) of rhetoric.  In a new book, he points out that while the word “debate” comes from the same latin word for “battle,” an argument is not a fight.  In a fight, you try to win.  In an argument, you try to win over.

On today’s edition of Healthwatch, with Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen:

Behavioral Health System Baltimore and the Baltimore City Health Department have announced plans to open the city’s first Stabilization Center, with $3.6 million in funds from the State Legislature. 

Cuts by the Trump Administration to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative threatens the  progress made locally and nationally in reducing the number of unwanted teen pregnancies.  We speak with Healthy Teen Network President, Pat Paluzzi, DrPH, about the impact these cuts will have on her clients. 

Finally, senior citizens in Baltimore fall more often than seniors elsewhere.  Roughly 5,000 visits to emergency rooms last year were because of people taking a tumble.  What can be done to keep older folks on their feet?

Dr. Wen answers our questions for the hour, and takes your calls, emails and tweets about your public health concerns.

Photo Courtesy Jim Shea for Maryland

On this latest installment of our series of Conversations with the Candidates, Tom's guest is Jim Shea, a Democrat who's running to be his party's nominee for Maryland Governor.  Shea is one of nine Democrats who'll be on the gubernatorial ballot for the June 26th primary.  The winner will face Republican Governor Larry Hogan in the November general election.  

Shea announced his candidacy last summer, and has chosen Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott as his Lt. Governor running mate.  

Mr. Shea is 65 years old.  He grew up in Towson and he currently lives in Owings Mills.  He is a father of four children and the grandfather of two.  He has been married to his wife Barbara for 39 years.

Smythe Richbourg/Creative Commons

Today, a look at what was accomplished by our legislators in Annapolis during the 2018 MD General Assembly, which ended on Monday night.

Governor Hogan has signed more than a hundred bills into law since then, and he’s let several become law without his signature.  More than 3,100 bills were introduced this year, a record number. 

Tom talks with two Republicans and two Democrats this afternoon to get their impressions of what the Governor has said is the most productive session of his tenure. 

Two of our guests represent Baltimore City.  Two represent Baltimore and Harford Counties. 

Photo by Joe Williams

It's Thursday, and that means we welcome to the studio Midday's far-ranging theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, back from our western frontier and an evening at Frederick's Maryland Ensemble Theater, which is currently staging a new production of playwright Gina Gionfriddo's feminist comedy, Rapture, Blister, Burn -- a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

MET's program describes it as "an intensely smart, immensely funny play that asks the question, 'What makes us happy in life?' After graduate school, Catherine and Gwen chose polar opposite paths. Catherine built a career as a rock star academic, while Gwen built a home with her husband and children. Decades later each woman covets the other’s life, commencing a dangerous game of musical chairs."

Playwright Gionfriddo, in her program notes for Playwrights Horizons' 2012 world premiere of Rapture, Blister, Burn in New York, wrote, "I don't want to say too much about what happens in this play, but age and generation loom large. My play, Becky Shaw, feels to me a play about years 30-35; it's still possible to launch a career or start a family, but you need to hurry up. Rapture, Blister, Burn feels like a play about years 40-45. Big, unfulfilled dreams are still possible, but they're statistically less likely. If you're going to take a big leap and remake yourself, you have to do it now."

The production at MET is directed by Suzanne Beale, and the cast includes Gené Fouché, Carol Randolph, Madeline Reinhold, Laura Stark, and Ron Ward.

Rapture, Blister, Burn continues at Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick through April 29.

Photo by Geoffrey Wahl, Christopher Dravis - NCI-Salk Institute

Today, a conversation about new breakthroughs in cancer research.  Nearly 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S every year, and nearly 600,000 of those people die from the disease.  Those who survive often face difficult surgeries, and long rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or costly immunotherapy.    

Cancer is one of the world’s leading killers because it’s usually discovered too late, after tumors have grown and spread to other parts of the body.  If detected early enough, most cancers would be survivable.  But until recently, there have been no reliable early-screening methods for the most aggressive forms of cancer. 

Now, a team of physicians at Johns Hopkins has devised a new kind of blood test that can screen for 8 different kinds of cancer.  Taken together, those eight cancers account for more than 60 percent of cancer deaths in the United States each year. 

That team is led by one of Tom's guests today, Dr. Bert Vogelstein.   He is the Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at The Johns Hopkins Medical School and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center here in Baltimore.  He’s a pioneer in the field of cancer genomics.  His research papers have reportedly been cited more often than those of any other scientist, in any discipline.

And joining us on the line from the studios of Kaiser Health News in Washington is Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal.  She’s a former emergency room physician. She spent 22 years covering health issues for the New York Times.  She was appointed the editor and chief of Kaiser Health News in 2016.  She’s also the author of American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, which was published exactly one year ago today.  (Dr. Rosenthal spoke with Tom Hall about her book and the issues it explores on the Aug. 9, 2017 Midday. She  was interviewed earlier in the year by Terri Gross on WHYY's Fresh Air. )

Drs. Vogelstein and Rosenthal will be co-panelists again at the Maryland Science Center starting at 7pm on Tuesday, April 24th, in a talk entitled Truths, Myths and Breakthroughs in Medical and Cancer Research, part of this year’s Great Talk series.  Follow the link for program and ticket information.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: An Appreciation

Apr 11, 2018
Photo Courtesy Sahisotry.org.za

Today, a reflection on the work and legacy of the late Winnie Madikezela-Mandela, a fierce advocate for social justice who was considered by many South Africans to be the mother of their nation.  

She is widely revered in South Africa and around the African continent for her relentless fight against the South African apartheid system which, for nearly 50 years, subjected the native Black population to violence, intimidation and segregation.

Winnie Madikizela Mandela died last Monday at the age of 81. 

Dr. Emira Woods joins us in Studio A.  Dr. Woods is a  scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, and a member of the International Working Group for Africans Rising, a network of African social justice movements. 

Joining us from Boston is Dr. Xolela Mangcu.  He’s a Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town, and  the author and co-author of nine books, including a biography of the late anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko.

On today's program, a conversation about housing in Baltimore, through the lens of gentrification and social justice.

While perhaps more than 16,000 houses in Baltimore are vacant and many neighborhoods have to contend with persistent blight, other areas are booming.  Station North and Greenmount West, on the North Avenue corridor, for example, have seen sustained commercial and residential development over the last decade, with investment from private developers, the city and the state. But who benefits from this kind of development?  Some of the neighborhoods that are part of the Baltimore Renaissance have attracted a population of transplants that are young, college educated and mostly white.  

But does our city also have investment that is creating opportunities for Baltimore’s low income minority population?  Can we have economic growth and equality? 

Tom is joined in Studio A by, Dr. Seema Iyer who oversees the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance at the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore; Dr. Lawrence Brown, Associate Professor in the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University and a long-time advocate for racial equality in Baltimore.

And, Cultural Anthropologist and activist, Sabiyha Prince,  author of the book  African Americans and Gentrification in Washington, DC: Race, Class and Social Justice in the Nation’s Capital.

image courtesy hackaday.com

(This story originally aired on April 5, 2017) 

Today, an archive edition of Midday on Ethics.  A year ago, HBO and Oprah Winfrey brought the story of Henrietta Lacks to television. The film, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” based on the book of the same name by Rebecca Skloot, is still available for streaming on the HBO website.

You may already be somewhat familiar with the story of Henrietta Lacks, who lived in southeastern Baltimore County in the early 1950s, in Turner Station.   She had cancer, and in 1951, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital did a biopsy to diagnose her disease and to determine her course of treatment.  She died 8 months later.  But her cells -- a rare "immortal" line that could be reproduced endlessly -- have lived on.  She may have consented to the biopsy.  But without her consent, and without the knowledge of her family, cells taken during that procedure were used, for decades, in medical research around the world.  In fact the HeLa cell line – H-E for Henrietta and L-A for Lacks -- revolutionized medical research, and, by some accounts, has resulted in billions of dollars’ worth of medical breakthroughs.  None of the proceeds, however, ever went to Ms. Lacks or to her descendants.

So, could the same thing happen today?  What follows is a conversation about Informed Consent. How much have standards changed in the 65 years since Henrietta Lacks was a cancer patient at Hopkins? And what are today’s standards for Informed Consent?

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is the director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.  He stops by Midday from time to time to talk about how ethicists help us frame the complex questions that surround stories like the extraordinary case of Henrietta Lacks.

Because this is an archive edition of Midday, we’re not able to take any new calls or emails.   We first aired this show in April of last year, just before the Henrietta Lacks film debuted on HBO. 

Smythe Richbourg/Creative Commons

It’s the Midday News Wrap. The Maryland General Assembly wraps up its 2018 session on Monday at midnight. So far, more than 3,100 bills have been introduced in this session. Today, a tally of what legislation has passed, and what is likely to pass -- or fail -- between now and “sine die.”

First, Tom takes a look at one of the most controversial bills of the session: Senate Bill 122, the Comprehensive Crime Bill of 2018. It calls for increasing penalties for certain crimes, including mandating penalties for crimes involving a firearm. It would also fund the anti-crime initiative, Safe Streets, and establish a task force to study statutes related to gangs.

Joshua Harris and Rev. Kobi Little join Tom in studio to explain why the NAACP (and other groups) oppose the bill.  Harris is director of communications for the NAACP Maryland State Conference. He’s also a former mayoral candidate in Baltimore City.  Little is the Maryland NAACP’s director of political action.

Later in the News Wrap, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record joins Tom on the line from the State House with the latest news about several other bills on this, the second to last official day of the session.

Photo Courtesy Morgan State University Opera

Tom is joined in Studio A by, internationally acclaimed classical soprano, Marquita Lister and the conductor and keyboard virtuoso Lester Green.  They are Artistic Director and Music Director, respectively, for the production of Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadows, which opens at Morgan State University on Tuesday,  April 10th. 

The Opera and its libretto were written by the composer, Steven M. Allen.  It is suffused with Dunbar’s verse and correspondence between Dunbar and Moore, both of whom are recognized as luminaries of American literature.

Image from Creative Commons

It’s Midday at the Movies, our monthly focus on new films and film-industry trends, with our regular movie afficionadoes, Jed Dietz, founding director of the Maryland Film Festival, and Ann Hornaday, film critic for the Washington Post.  They join Tom to consider how new filmmaking and distribution technologies are changing the definition of "a movie." 

In her piece in the Washington Post last week, Ann Hornaday notes the decision by Cannes Film Festival organizers to exclude from this year's awards competition all non-theatrically-released films -- such as those from streaming-service giants Amazon and Netflix -- unless they’re released in French theaters for a month before they become available on-line.  Is a movie still a movie, if you can watch it on your phone?  Is the experience of seeing a movie in a public theater any better than watching it on the big screen in your livingroom?  Today, the movie mavens weigh in on those questions, and spotlight some notable new films opening at Baltimore theaters.

Photo courtesy Flickr

Today, we mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a reflection on his legacy, and a discussion about the state of Civil Rights in America today.  Fifty years on, what has changed for people of color and economically underserved populations in our country?

Tom is joined in Studio A by, Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, Senior Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and founder of Orita's Cross Freedom School; and Rev. Dr. C Anthony Hunt, Senior Pastor of Epworth United Methodist Chapel and King scholar.

Joining us from NPR studios in DC is Myesha Braden, Director for the Criminal Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Tom speaks with Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represents the 7th District here in MD, about his annual job fair, and the fight against opioid addiction in Maryland and around the nation. The Congressman recently penned an Op-ed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, which called on Congress to pass a comprehensive legislation on this issue.

Rep. Cummings  is the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 

Photo courtesy PodOMatic

It’s Midday Culture Connection, with our regular guest, Dr. Sheri Parks of the University of Maryland.  Today, a conversation about the Neo Soul movement

In the 1980s and the early 90s, musical artists like Erykah Badu, Lauren Hill, India Arie and others came to define a musical genre.  

But Neo Soul has evolved into something much more than music.  Today, the term Neo Soul suggests a lifestyle that's premised on spirituality, self-care, and diet, and that favors beauty-care products made with natural ingredients.

Dr. Sheri Parks is on the faculty of the University of Maryland College Park, and the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman

Joining Sheri and Tom in Studio A is the singer, producer, holistic-wellness practitioner and arts activist, Navasha Daya. We hear also from Jamyla Bennu, the co-founder and creator with her husband Pierre of Oyin HandmadeTheir Baltimore-based company markets an Africa-inspired line of natural beauty and hair-and-skin care products that embody many aspects of the Neo Soul lifstyle.  Bennu's conversation with Tom was recorded earlier.

Photo Credit Baltimore Sun

On our latest installment of Midday with the Afro, a rally was held in Baltimore support of Stephon Clark, the young man who died at the hands of police in Sacramento, CA. 

The bills concerning black ownership of medical marijuana licenses are coming down to the wire. 

Also, Nathaniel Oakes, the Senator from the 41st district is out of office, but he is on the ballot in the June Primary.  And there has been a leadership change in the MD Legislative Black Caucus..

Kamau High is Managing Editor of The Afro American Newspapers.  He joins Tom live in Studio A. 

The AFRO’s Second Annual High Tea is Saturday April 21st, 2018.  This year’s theme is “We Too Support #METOO”, and a portion of proceeds from this event will benefit The House of Ruth.  For tickets and info, click the link below: 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-afro-american-newspapers-second-annual-high-tea-tickets-43717333722

photo courtesy Friends of Johnny O

Today, another installment in our series of Conversations with the Candidates.  Joining Tom in Studio A is former Maryland House Delegate and public school teacher John Olszewski, Jr.  Known as “Johnny O,” he represented the County’s 6th district for two terms in the Maryland General Assembly, and spent nine years teaching in several Baltimore County public schools. In June of 2017, he took leave from his position with a local software company to launch himself back into politics. Olszewski is one of four Democrats vying to be their party's primary pick for the office of Baltimore County Executive.  Maryland primary elections will be held on June 26th.

Today, Tom's guest is Krish Vignarajah, a Democratic candidate for Governor -- as we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26th primary ballot here in MD.  She is one of nine Democrats on the ballot in June. The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election in November. 

Several candidates have chosen women as their Lt. Governor running mates, but Ms. Vignarajah is the only woman running for the top job. Her running mate is Sharon Blake, the former head of the Baltimore Teacher’s Union.

Krish Vignarajah served as Policy Director to First Lady Michelle Obama. She was also a senior advisor at the State Department for Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Before working in the Obama administration, she was a consultant at McKinsey & Company. She is a Yale and Oxford educated lawyer who practiced law in Washington, DC. She clerked for Chief Judge Michael Boudin on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and she taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. She is 38 years old. She and her husband, Collin O’Mara, who is the President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, live in Gaithersburg with their baby daughter.

We streamed this conversation live on WYPR's Facebook page. Want to watch that video? Click here.

Creative Commons

Today, a preview of a powerful new film about the last three years in the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leader who was assassinated 50 years ago next week, on April 4, 1968.

The renowned historian Taylor Branch is an executive producer of the HBO documentary, King in the Wilderness, a compendium of reflections by King’s closest friends, interwoven with archival footage, about a period that was one of the most tumultuous in American history, and one of the most personally challenging and difficult for the iconic civil rights leader, as he struggled to confront racism, poverty and militarism, and the increasing danger to his own life. 

Taylor Branch joins Tom in Studio A to talk about the film, and the new insights it provides on its its tragic subject.

King in the Wilderness will be screened tonight at 7pm the Parkway Theater.   The film airs Monday April 2nd at 8pm on HBO.

Photo by Stan Barouh

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us with her weekly review of one of the region's many thespian offerings.  Today, it's Aubergine, the new play by Julia Cho that's on stage at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre

Aubergine is a story about the complexity of family relationships and the emotional power of food.  The play centers on a Korean family that's struggling to bridge generational and cultural divides, and the foods and culinary traditions that help the family members find each other across those divides.

Produced in association with Olney Theatre Center and directed by Everyman's founding artistic director, Vincent Lancisi, Aubergine features Tony Nam (as Ray); Glenn Kubota (Ray's father); Song Kim (Ray's uncle); Jefferson Russell (Lucien); Eunice Bae (Cornelia); and Megan Anderson (Diane/hospital worker).

Aubergine continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, April 15th. 

Photo courtesy Mary Frances Berry

Today on the show, a conversation with Dr. Mary Frances Berry.  She is a scholar, an author and activist whose new book chronicles the history of American protest and resistance movements, from the Roosevelt administration through the Obama years.

From the Vietnam War, to the end of Apartheid in South Africa, to her long tenure on the US Civil Rights Commission that the spanned several administrations, Dr. Berry brings deep experience and erudition to this fascinating book.  It’s called History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times.  

Pages