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Maryland Morning

Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

 The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture’s latest exhibition is called Now, That’s Cool!  The collection tells the story of the long and varied African-American experience in Maryland, a story that for many decades was defined by slavery, segregation and the legacies of those institutions.  

The exhibit includes more than 40 artifacts collected by the museum over the past 10 years, including a door from the once-segregated Druid Hill Park bathhouses that reads "White Men;" original pictures of abolitionist Frederick Douglass; and a broadside poster from 1802 advertising the capture of two slaves in Frederick, Maryland. 

In this report by producer Bridget Armstrong, museum curator Charles Bethea explains the importance of the exhibition's pieces, and museum visitors share their reactions to the artifacts. 

Now, That's Cool! will be on display at The Reginald F. Lewis museum until December 31. 

Photo by Will Kirk/BSF

There are two striking non-traditional elements in the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s production of “Julius Caesar.” First, it’s set at the time of the American Revolution. And second, although almost all of the characters are men, women play more than half the roles.

The reason for the changed time period, to paraphrase director Chris Cotterman’s program notes, is that the story of Julius Caesar was distant – but relatable – history to Shakespeare’s original audiences. So why not create a similar link – okay, not quite as distant – that would resonate with American audiences?

Baltimore Shakespeare Factory is dedicated to “recreating the experience that Shakespeare’s audiences would have had.” I can’t say how relevant his audiences might have found the hubris of the title character – the presumptive king. But I suspect it might touch a chord with audiences here.

photo courtesy Emory University

The first anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray, and the protests and violent uprising that ensued, has come and gone. The trials of the six police officers indicted in connection with the young black man's death, from injuries he sustained in a police van, have ended without a single conviction.  In the July issue of Harper's Magazine, author Lawrence Jackson, who's been a professor of African-American Studies and English at Emory, reflected on his hometown, Baltimore, and the decades of city policies and practices that preceded -- and seeded -- the uprising of April 2015.  The title of his article invokes a phrase that's familiar to anyone who's lived in Charm City for a while -- The City That Bleeds.  Lawrence Jackson joins Tom in the studio to discuss the dynamics of the article's subtitle: "Freddie Gray and the makings of an American uprising."

National Press Foundation

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen joins Tom in the studio for our monthly Healthwatch conversation. Dr. Wen discusses how to stay safe during our dangerous Code Red heat-alert conditions. The Health Commissioner also talks about the continuing efforts to keep the Zika virus from spreading in Maryland, about the serious opioid overdose epidemic in Baltimore, and the informational website  that the city recently launched, which shows you how to administer Naloxone, a drug that can save a person from a potentially fatal opioid overdose.

Photo by Arash Azizzada

The Department of Justice released a scathing report on the Baltimore Police Department on Wednesday. The report found systematic deficiencies and a pattern of unconstitutional and racially biased behavior in the department. 

The DOJ found that BPD routinely made unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests, used excessive force, retaliated against people engaging in constitutionally-protected expression, targeted African-Americans communities, failed to adequately investigate sexual assault allegations, and failed to hold officers accountable for wrongdoing.  Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis joins Tom by phone to respond to the report. 

Photo courtesy Frederick County Government

In another installment in our Focus on the Counties series, Tom is joined by Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner. Ms. Gardner is 59 years old and a native of Northwestern Pennsylvania. She moved to Frederick County in the early 90s, where her husband’s family has resided for six generations. A mother of three adult children, she and her husband now live in the city of Frederick.

Ms. Gardner is a Democrat and Frederick County’s first County Executive.  She holds an M.B.A. from Xavier University. She served as Frederick County Commissioner and the President of Frederick County Commissioners before being elected County Executive in 2014.

According to census data released last year, Frederick County is the fifth fastest-growing county in the state of Maryland.  County Executive Jan Gardner explains how that growth has been affecting life - and governance - in Frederick County.


Jazz and classical pianist Jeffrey Chappell joins Tom to discuss his new quartet Otherworld

Chappell, who is the director of Jazz studies at Goucher College, taught or directed all of his band mates at some point in his career. The band included Jake Kohlhas on guitar, Chris Taylor on bass, and Jake Marinari on percussion.  Unlike other bands, Otherworld, which was born out of a jam session, doesn’t have a "leader."  Instead, members enjoy equal status and input.  Chappell talks with Tom about the band’s genesis and what inspires their music.

Photo from

Two decades ago, new research and new diagnostic tools led to a sharp rise in the numbers of children diagnosed with autism. The surprising prevalence of the developmental brain disorder – affecting an estimated 1 in 68 children born in the U.S. – sparked a wave of special programs designed to help autistic children achieve their full potential.  Now, as these children have grown into adults, programs to help them live their lives with purpose and dignity are few and far between.  This morning, producer Rob Sivak reports on some local efforts to address the unique challenges of adults with autism.

Itineris, a non-profit agency launched in 2003 by a grass-roots coalition of health professionals and parents of autistic children, is one of the few organized efforts in Baltimore that's helping autistic adults meet those challenges.   Another, larger, fee-for-service operation is the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism,  established in 2007 as part of the Institute for Well-Being within Towson University's College of Health Professions. 

Rob pays a visit to the Hussman Center and talks with staff and adult participants; we hear how the facility provides both a training environment for Towson University students interested in learning about autism, and a valuable resource for young adults living with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism Speaks is a key online resource for families with children and young adults living on the spectrum and who are interested in self-advocacy.

Photo by harry Bechkes

Now in its 35th year, the Baltimore Playwrights Festival has been going through structural and organizational changes. This summer’s season consists almost entirely of script-in-hand, staged readings, which continue into September.

The only full production is “Crash & Burn, P.A.,” written by festival veteran Robert R. Bowie, Jr., and produced by the Theatrical Mining Company. Bowie is a lawyer and like several of his previous plays, “Crash & Burn” is set in the legal world.

But unlike some of those earlier plays – which tackled subjects ranging from slavery to repressed memory – “Crash & Burn” is a farce, a farce that takes place in the office of a pair of bottom-feeding lawyers. Mark Crash is a low-level criminal attorney; his partner, Mike Burn, apparently prefers dead clients – he specializes in wills.

Tim Stephens

Suzanne Feldman's  debut novel, Absalom's Daughters,  follows the adventures of two teenage girls as they embark on a journey to find their father -- and themselves. 

The story is set in Mississippi during the 1950s, as the two young girls, one black and one white, learn that they share the same white father. He has abandoned both of the girls and left for Virginia. The sisters  set out on a road trip through the Deep South to find him.

The Frederick-based writer joins Tom in the studio to talk about her novel and its unusual inspiration.