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Midday

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

Photo by George David Sanchez

(This program originally aired on April 25, 2017)  

Today, it’s Midday on Mid Life.  Mid Life can be a dizzying hash of juggling jobs, keeping a marriage vibrant, tending to children as they enter adulthood, and caring for parents as they enter their twilight years.  No wonder the term “midlife” so often has the word “crisis” attached to it like a tentacle.     

But our 40s, 50s and 60s can also be a time when we come into our own, forge new relationships, and discover fresh things about the world and ourselves. 

In her most recent book, Life Reimagined: The Science, Art and Opportunity of Midlifeformer NPR correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty takes a clear-eyed look at the challenges and joys of being old enough to know better, and young enough to enjoy the new things that life might have to offer. 

(Barbara Bradley Hagerty talked about her book April 26th at the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church on Dulaney Valley Road in Lutherville, Maryland.  Her talk was sponsored by Well for the Journey, a spiritual wellness center offering classes and workshops in Towson.)

The Urban Forest: Why It's Crucial

Aug 24, 2017
Photos by Peggy Fox/K. Wilson

(This program originally aired on Nov. 22, 2016)

When you look up, what do you see? If you’re in Baltimore and many other U.S. cities, what you see are trees. When viewed from above, the tree canopy, as it is known, covers more than 27% of Baltimore. And, if today’s urban arborists have their way, that figure will be significantly higher 20 years from now.

Today, a conversation about urban forests. What purpose do they serve in our daily lives? Who planted them, and why? What lessons did we learn from the mid-20th century disaster known as Dutch Elm Disease, or the Emerald Ash Borer infestation, which have decimated the urban tree-cover in cities across the U.S.? And what do today’s science and technology reveal about the importance of the grown environment in American cities?

Tom's guests in Studio A are Jill Jonnes and Erik Dihle.

Jill Jonnes is an author, a historian, and self-described “tree-hugger.” She’s also the author of six books. Her latest is called “Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape.” She’s the founder of the Baltimore Tree Trust. She was a scholar in residence at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington and has been both a Ford Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities scholar. She is based here in Baltimore. She'll be reading from "Urban Forests" tonight at the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore at 7 pm. 

Erik Dihle is Baltimore City’s Arborist and Chief of Urban Forestry. He leads Tree Baltimore, the city’s tree planting initiative, which works with non-profit partners, including the Baltimore Tree Trust, to increase the city’s tree canopy.

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. 

Midday News Wrap 8.18.17

Aug 18, 2017
Photo courtesy Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun

It's the Midday News Wrap, our review of the week's top news stories, with a rotating panel of journalists and commentators.

Protesting the planned removal of a Confederate monument was the pretext for a Unite the Right rally by armed neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klansmen in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.  Dozens were injured in the ensuing melee with counter protesters, and a young woman named Heather Heyer was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into the crowd.  

President Trump angered critics and supporters alike with his shifting analyses of the violence in Charlottesville, his refusal to unequivocally denounce the white supremacist groups by name, and his insistence that counter-protesters share equal blame for the weekend violence. 

In the days that followed, Confederate-themed monuments became rallying points for anti-racism protests and criticism in many US cities, resulting in the removal of monuments here in Baltimore and North Carolina, with other states, including Florida and Kentucky, pledging to remove their monuments as well.  

To help parse these and other news stories, Tom is joined by Dr. Ray Winbush, Research Professor and Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and Ayesha Rascoe, White House correspondent for the Reuters news agency.  

Photo courtesy National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Jim O'Leary, the lead space science and astronomy specialist at the Maryland Science Center, speaks with Tom about the partial solar eclipse that will be visible here in Maryland on Monday afternoon.  Although Maryland is not in the path of totality, if weather conditions are right, we will  experience a hearty partial solar eclipse -- a celestial phenomenon only slightly less remarkable than totality. 

Symphony Number One, Live in Studio

Aug 18, 2017
Photo courtesy Jordanrsmith.com

Conductor Jordan Randall Smith joins Tom in the Midday studio, along with two members of his 20-piece chamber orchestra,  Symphony Number One: clarinetist Scott Johnson and bassoonist Mateen Milan.  

Smith founded the classical ensemble two years ago and already they've released two albums and given world premiere performances of more thana dozen works.

The two SNO musicians perform live in the Midday studio and Smith, Johnson and Milan discuss the finer points of working in a small classical orchestra.

Playlist:

Beethoven, Duo No. 1 for Clarinet and Bassoon 

Scott Joplin, The Entertainer 

For more information on all upcoming concerts please visit symphonynumber.one/eve.  

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.

Courtesy of Raqui Minwell

Welcome to another edition of What Ya Got Cookin? -- Midday's bi-monthly tribute to the wonders of good food, good cooks, and good eating.  Today the topic is soul food and southern cooking.  

As always, Tom is joined by Midday’s resident foodies, John Shields and Sascha Wolhandler

John is a chef, author and the owner of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He’s also the host of Coastal Cooking and Chesapeake Bay Cooking on Maryland Public Television and PBS. Sascha and her husband Steve Susser recently retired from their long career running Sascha’s 527 Cafe in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Charm City

Our special guest today is Chef David Thomas, a career food professional with more than 25 years in the restaurant and food service trade. Previously the chef and owner of The Herb & Soul Café, Thomas has now partnered with the media company, Real News Network, on a new restaurant in downtown Baltimore called Ida B’s Table.

Courtesy of Joshua McKerrow

Today, Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her review of  Alice and the Book of Wonderland, a new rendition of the classic being produced on stage by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, in Annapolis, Maryland. Sally Boyett and Donald Hicken adapted Lewis Carroll's whimsical children's novel and gave it a modern twist. Boyett directs the action, which involves a series of absurd Carrollian vignettes that draws the curious young Alice deeper into Wonderland's surreal mysteries.

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.

STEP the Film

The new documentary film, "STEP" by Amanda Lipitz, who grew up in Charm City, has been critically acclaimed, and it’s raised the profile of a Baltimore middle and high school  immeasurably.  “STEP” follows a high school step team during their senior year at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, an all-girls public charter school here in Baltimore City. 

Paula Dofat is one of the faculty members who are featured in the film. She’s the Director of College Counseling at the school – charged with ensuring that the school's graduates attend college. She's a powerful force in a terrific film, and she joined Tom today in Studio A. 

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.

MTA

Today, we take another look at Baltimore Link, the city’s new bus system.

Gov. Larry Hogan promised the bus system overhaul after he killed the proposed Red Line extension of the Light Rail in 2015. Hogan contended that the $135 million overhaul of the Baltimore bus system would be a better option that the $2.9 billion dollar light rail proposal.  

MTA officials promised that Baltimore Link would speed up travel times for commuters and get people closer to more of the places where they work.  We discussed Baltimore Link on Midday right after it launched in June, and today, we re-examine it, now that it’s had a couple of months to work out some of the kinks, which are to be expected with any large overhaul.

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. 

Photo courtesy of Rev. Maria Swearingen

This is another edition of Living Questions, our monthly series on the role of religion in the public sphere, which we produce in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.  

This past January, the leadership of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC, elected the Reverend Maria Swearingen and Reverend Sally Sarratt as their congregation’s co-pastors.

Calvary Baptist has a long, progressive history since its founding by anti-slavery abolitionists in 1862, but the selection of these two women to lead their congregation was nonetheless a bold move.

Maria Swearingen and Sally Sarratt are a married, lesbian couple.  They join Tom in the studio to talk about the journey that brought them to Calvary Baptist, what they are doing in their co-ministry, and what their election as co-pastors may say about the Baptist Church and about tolerance in established denominations across the broader religious landscape.

Rousuck's Review: "Love's Labour's Lost"

Aug 10, 2017
Photo by Will Kirk

Every Thursday, Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck stops by with her review of one of this region's theater productions.

Today, it's the new production of Love's Labour's Lost by the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, which is being staged as part of their seasonal Shakespeare in the Meadow program.

The play -- one of the Bard's early comedies -- follows the attempt by Ferdinand, King of Navarre, and his three companions to forswear the company of women for three years. Their plan does not go particularly well.

Chris Cotterman, the associate artistic director of the BSF, directs the light-hearted production, which runs through Sunday, August 13, outdoors at the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory in Evergreen Meadow (located at the Johns Hopkins Evergreen Museum and Library). From August 18-20, the production moves indoors to the Great Hall Theater at St. Mary’s Community Center. Check the Baltimore Shakespeare factory website for details.

The House and Senate and the president have all left town for the August recess. Just before they left they were deep in the drama of the Senate Republicans’ failure to repeal and/or replace Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act.

During this exodus of all politicians from Washington we’ll put politics aside for a moment and ask: What should the healthcare system and healthcare coverage in the U.S. look like? Can we take the system we’ve got and make it work better? And if we were starting from scratch, what kind of system would we create?

Two experts who have been thinking and writing about healthcare for years join Midday to answer these questions.

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.

It’s another edition of the Midday Healthwatch, our monthly conversation with Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen.    

According to the latest estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 142 Americans die every day from a drug overdose  -- more than 50,000 people every year. The majority of these deaths, now surging in more than 30 states, are being caused by powerful illicit opioid drugs like heroin and fentanyl, and widely-used prescription painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone, the active opioids in Percocet and Vicodin, respectively.

AP Photos

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury.  The Trump White House has called in the Marines, or at least one highly respected Marine General, to impose order in the West Wing, and to squash the constant barrage of leaks.  Those leaks, however, continue at an unprecedented pace.

A transcript of phone calls with the Presidents of Mexico and Australia were revelatory about the President’s negotiating style.  A transcript of a phone call with the head of the Boy Scouts will never be leaked, because the phone call was imagined by the President.  In West Virginia last night, he played hits from the campaign like “Lock her up!” and reveled in the defection of the state's Democratic governor to the Republican Party.  In Baltimore, the City Council and the Mayor wrestled over plans to stem the violence on city streets.  

A lot to parse in this week's News Wrap. Tom is joined today by Associated Press White House reporter Darlene Superville, on the line from Washington.  And joining us in the studio is Jean Marbella of the Baltimore Sun. She has been a writer and editor at the Sun for 30 years, currently serving on the Sun’s investigative and enterprise team.

Image courtesy Annapurna Pictures

This is another edition of Midday at the Movies.  Today, Tom is joined by  our favorite movie mavens, Jed Dietz of the Maryland Film Festival and Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post, for a look at the latest fare in movie theaters this summer. 

Detroit, the new Kathryn Bigelow movie about the Detroit riots in 1967 is at the Charles.  Dunkirk has landed at the Landmark, and Step, the documentary about triumph at a Baltimore high school, is kickin’ it at the Senator.  Jed and Ann talk with Tom about these and more of your Charm City cinematic choices this weekend, and take your questions and comments.  

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