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Midday

Today, Midday's theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck  reviews “A Christmas Story, The Musical” -- a new rendition of the late author and radio-TV celebrity Jean Shepherd’s comic story of a childhood Christmas.  That story was turned into a movie in 1983, and it’s been a perennial holiday favorite ever since.  Now it’s a musical, and it’s on stage at the Hippodrome through this Sunday, December 11.

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It’s been a little over a month since the U.S. presidential election. Republican Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the electoral college tally -- despite Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2.7 million-popular-vote plurality -- is an outcome that continues to stir passions across the country.

Trump’s election-day win stunned his political opponents. Many worry that a Donald Trump presidency could pose new challenges to civil liberties in this country -- and even legitimize racial and ethnic intolerance.

Since the election, there has been a spike in hate crimes and incidents of bigotry in schools.  Many young people have expressed concerns about the uncertain future of our country. Many teachers and administrators have appealed to education scholars for help and guidance in teaching their students about the election, about its potential implications, and about ways students can express and act constructively on their concerns.

Today on Midday, Tom talks to three education scholars who have responded to this need for a post-election lesson planThey are currently working with K-to-12 and even college teachers around the country to compile what they’re calling the "Trump Syllabus K-12."  That syllabus will be introduced at the Baltimore Trump Teach-In tonight at 7:00pm at Red Emma's Bookstore in Station North, here in Baltimore.  That event is co-sponsored by the Teachers Democracy Project and Towson University's Social Justice Collective.

Helping to lead the teach-in will be Dr. Kaye Wise Whitehead. She’s an Associate Professor of Communication and African & African-American Studies at Loyola University-Maryland, and the founding executive director of the Emilie Frances Davis Center for Education, Research, and Culture.  She’s also the author of several books -- most recently, Letters to My Black Sons: Raising Boys in a Post Racial America (2015).

Professor Jessica Shiller will be moderating the teach-in tonight. Dr. Shiller is an assistant professor of education in the Department of Instructional Leadership and Professional Development at Towson University.  She’s also taught high school in New York, and coached new teachers in the Bronx.  Before coming to Towson, she was on the faculty of Lehman College/City University of New York. 

Joining us by phone from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, is Dr. Alicia MooreShe’s an education professor, author and consultant, who currently holds the Cargill Endowed Professorship in the Department of Education at Southwestern.  A specialist in multiculturalism, early childhood and special education, she has served for the past 10 years as the co-editor of The Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s Black History Bulletin and she was a major contributor to an education blog entitled: "How Parents and Teachers Should Teach Children About Slavery."

University of Illinois Press

Today on Midday, an exploration of one of America’s greatest songwriters: Cole Porter. From songs like Night and Day to shows like Kiss Me Kate, Porter defined sophistication and elegance, and influenced generations of songwriters.

Baltimorecity.gov

Today, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stepped down from office after serving as Baltimore's mayor for six years. Rawlings-Blake -- who previously held the position of City Council President -- assumed office after former mayor Sheila Dixon was forced to resign after pleading guilty to misappropriation of funds. Rawlings-Blake was elected again in 2011, in 2015 she announced she would not seek re-election.

Rawlings-Blake’s tenure was marked by notable achievements but also fraught with controversy. Nationally, the Mayor may be remembered for her response during the 2015 Uprising following the death of Freddie Gray -- she was criticized for not stopping the “riots” quickly enough and for referring to “rioters” as thugs.” But she will also be remembered for attracting businesses like Amazon to the area, overseeing the $5.5B Port Covington development deal, and launching major initiatives to address the city's aging infrastructure.

 

Three astute political observers who have followed Rawlings-Blake's term in office join Tom in the studio today to help us assess the former mayor's impact on Baltimore and the legacy she leaves as newly-inaugurated Mayor Catherine Pugh takes office:

 

Andrew Green is the opinion editor for the Baltimore Sun. He was the city/state editor before coming to the editorial board, and prior to that he covered the State House and Baltimore County government.

 

Jean Marbella is a reporter on the Baltimore Sun’s investigative and enterprise team. She joined The Sun in 1987 and has been a health reporter, a feature writer, a national correspondent, an editor and a metro columnist.

Bishop Douglas Miles, with Koinonia Baptist Church, is co-chair emeritus of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), and one of the city's leading community and civil rights activists.

Apprentice House Press

Tom’s guests today are two social justice activists who have lived and worked among some of Baltimore‘s poorest and most disadvantaged people for nearly 50 years. 

Brendan Walsh was a seminarian from The Bronx, and Willa Bickham was a nun from Chicago before they changed course, married each other, and started feeding and housing the poor -- in Baltimore. Bickham and Walsh were married in 1967 and in October of the following year, they opened Viva House in Southwest Baltimore (or Sowebo, to city residents). Since then, they estimate that more than a million people have come to them asking for help: shelter, food, financial assistance, or maybe just a little TLC.

Viva House is part of a network of places around the country that are part of the Catholic Worker Movement. Viva House serves two meals per week to about 200 people from the neighborhood and elsewhere; they give away hundreds of bags of donated groceries every month; and they agitate for non-violence. In their new book, Brendan Walsh writes: “Long ago, our society lost a fundamental understanding of the common good and the necessity for human solidarity.” Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham have stood in solidarity with their neighbors in Sowebo, their fellow anti-war activists around the world, and the notion that the common good is worth standing for, worth fighting for, and worth bearing witness to. Their book is called The Long Loneliness in Baltimore; Stories Along the Way. Walsh and Bickham will be reading from their book at the Enoch Pratt Free Library on Jan. 24. For details about their reading, click here.  If you would like to volunteer or donate food for Viva House, or to buy the book, "The Long Loneliness in Baltimore," please call  Viva House at 410-233-0488. 

Baltimore is once again on track to reach a horrid and unacceptable milestone:  300 murders in one year.  As of today, 295 people have been the victims of a homicide in our city.  Plus, 620 people have been victims of non-fatal shootings.  Every Sunday, at Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill, they read the names and pray for the people who have died from violence in Baltimore during the previous week.  It may also be the case that other churches and houses of worship do this too, but Memorial is the only one we know of directly. 

Beginning today, we are going to read those names as well, every Monday, on Midday.  We will stand in witness to their untimely deaths, and we will remember their families and friends in their hour of grief.  A researcher named Ellen Worthing has been compiling a list of Baltimore homicide victims for the past 15 years.  We are indebted to her for the data she posts on her blog, chamspage.  See her blog here. We also consult the Baltimore Sun’s list of homicides, which they have been compiling since 2007. 

From the Saturday after Thanksgiving, through last Friday, the following people lost their lives to violence in Baltimore City:  Jacob Hayes, age 22, Charles McGee, age 23. Dwayne Dorsey, age 27, Davon Dozier, age 29, Troy Smothers, age 23, Jamal Stewart, age 18, plus an unidentified man who was 73 years old. 

IMDb

‘Tis the season to spread tidings of comfort and joy. If the cold weather – or the election – leave you craving comfort, we’ve got a few Comfort Movies to suggest on the Midday Monthly Movie Mayhem.

Our Movie Mavens, Ann Hornaday, chief film critic of The Washington Post and Jed Dietz, founder and executive director of the Maryland Film Festival, join Tom in Studio A to discuss the end of the year releases that tug hard at the heart strings.

From the out-of-this-world Arrival; to Loving, the profoundly moving story of interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving who married in 1958 in segregated Virginia; to the visually stunning documentary The Eagle Huntress; Hornaday and Dietz weigh in on which year-end flicks – and which Yuletide films – shouldn’t be missed. If you’re wondering what to see this weekend, look no further.

Sheri Parks

Much of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign was premised on antipathy towards immigrants and promises to build a wall along the US- Mexico border. As we now know those sentiments resonated with a lot of voters. Some analysts and critics have speculated that the President-Elect’s rise was fueled by xenophobia and the fear of increased diversity. It is a fact that the country is becoming more diverse. According to the Pew Research Center by the year  2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority. The Washington Post found that black and brown people are moving into towns and cities in the rust-belt and Midwest  that have traditionally been predominately white. How will this influx of diversity shape the electorate in the coming years, and how will it affect the presidency of a man whose campaign was premised on the fear of immigrants?

In the 10 days after the election the Southern Poverty Law Center received almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation from across the nation. Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults, making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.

Rousuck's Review: "Schoolgirl Figure" at Cohesion Theatre

Dec 1, 2016
Cohesion Theatre Company

Midday's theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck returns to Studio A with her weekly review of local area productions. Today it's Cohesion Theatre Company's production of Schoolgirl Figurenow onstage at the United Evangelical Church in Baltimore. Set in a high school, this edgy comedy examines the tragic complexities of body image in today's vanity-obsessed culture. The darkly disturbing play was written by Wendy MacLeod. It's  directed by Jonas David Grey, and stars Emily Sucher and Tatiana Ford, among the cast.

photos courtesy Monica Reinagel; The Elephant Restaurant

It’s time for another monthly installment of Smart Nutrition here on MiddayToday, a conversation about navigating the twists and turns of holiday party-going, and holiday party-giving.  Is there a better way of preparing those partridges in a pear tree than soaking them in lard and serving them with thickly buttered bread?  And what about the guests we invite to our parties who arrive with a list of food allergies, preferences and prohibitions that’s taller than the tree in Rockefeller Center?  Is there a way to be both naughty and nice when it comes to nutrition at this time of year?  

Joining Tom in the studio to help us sort it all out is the Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel.  She’s an author and a licensed nutritionist who joins us on Midday every month, and who blogs on food, diet and health issues at nutrition over easy.com.  Also with us to talk about the holiday's culinary challenges  is Andy Thomas, the Executive Chef at The Elephant Restaurant in Baltimore.

Tom and guests take your calls, comments and suggestions for good Yuletide eats on this edition of Smart Nutrition.

Emily Jan/The Atlantic, Patrick Semansky/AP, Johns Hopkins University

Today, a conversation about Safe Streets, a program that uses the street wisdom of former felons and reformed gang members to fight the epidemic of gun violence in some of Baltimore’s most dangerous neighborhoods. The concept was inspired by a similar program in Chicago called Ceasefire. Community outreach workers known as "violence interrupters" patrol neighborhoods, interacting with residents and stepping in to mediate tense conflicts before they escalate to violence. Many of the violence interrupters have criminal records and gang ties, and all of them have credible reputations on the streets, an aspect that proves important when stepping into potentially violent situations. 

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