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Annapolis needs permanent memorial garden to honor women; seeing systemic racism firsthand; support for End-of-Life Option Act | READER COMMENTARY



A way to honor even more pioneering women

It is Women’s History Month and Patsy Baker Blackshear (“Recognizing and celebrating African American Female Pioneers,” March 19) deserves applause for identifying 34 Anne Arundel County African American women pioneers. The women included in the 34 deserve the recognition and appreciation they have contributed to breaking barriers and opening doors to opportunity.

I am reminded of another effort … back before Covid 19 shut down celebrations planned for the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. Back then among the ideas was a permanent memorial to all women in Anne Arundel County that broke the glass ceiling in politics, business, the arts and volunteerism over the last 300 years.

A memorial landscaped garden was suggested that carried the names and stories to offer inspiration to so many young people in our community. Anne Marie Essen volunteered a design for this permanent memorial that was published in What’s Up magazine. Despite conversations with elected or appointed leaders in our community no one embraced the idea of a memorial garden honoring women who broke class ceilings and opened up doors for others to follow. Nice smiles but deaf ears to partnership.

For more than 300 years women were considered second-class citizens, (in some ways we still are) denied education opportunities and even the ability to speak in public. Women only gained the right to vote by one vote more than 100 years ago.

Over the last 300 years in our community there have been many pioneer women. ( For instance, Anne Catharine Hoof Green in the 1700s was the first woman publisher of the Maryland Gazette, one of the oldest newspapers in America).

Thanks is due to Blackshear and her committee’s efforts to recoganize 34 African American women in writing. Perhaps someday, somewhere in this capital city a permanent memorial garden where people can stroll and sit will honor even more pioneer women who broke glass ceilings.

Ellen Moyer, Annapolis

Moyer is a former Annapolis mayor

Racism exists in downtown Annapolis

While my family and I were out today shopping downtown we experienced the shameful, ugly reality of racism in this town. In a store we frequent near marketplace, our mixed family (Latino, African American, white) walked into the empty retail store and were ignored the entire time. Then when two separate white couples walked in, both clerks went out of their way to welcome them and ask if they could help with anything while never even looking our way. My family and I looked at each other, discussed it and decided to leave the store, which stinks because we own many items and have purchased gifts from this retail store.

To think that just a few years ago we and our friends all joined with our fellow local restaurants, retailers and residents in the same spot downtown protesting against racial injustice after the wrongful death of George Floyd is emblematic of how far we still have to go as a community and society.

Racism IS systemic, it’s everywhere on small and large scales and though complex, it’s fixable.

I’m so thankful my wife went back into the store and confronted the staff, explaining her frustration and sadness at their mistake … they apologized. Systemic racism has to be vanquished, and only we as a community can recognize, realize and make efforts to do so.

Chris Shultz and Michelle Gilchrist, Annapolis

It’s time to pass End-of-Life Option Act

My identity is tied up in being a Marylander — in humid summers picking crabs on my grandmother’s porch in South County and in forsythia blooming in the spring. I have loved Maryland because it is home, but even more so, I have loved Maryland because it can change.

When I was in high school growing up outside of Annapolis, my friends and I would walk around downtown, often stopping in front of the statehouse to visit Roger Taney, a man and a statue we despised. Taney was the chief justice of the Supreme Court when Dred Scott was decided in 1857. We couldn’t fathom why a man who did not believe that Black people were people was still standing in front of our place of governance.

During the Black Lives Matter protests of 2016, we marched to that statue in defiance of what it stood for. In 2017, Gov. Larry Hogan took it down with little fanfare. In 2020, statues of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were unveiled in the state house, two giants of Maryland history and the history of this country. This symbolic change represents a wider change in Maryland’s politics and history.

Another giant of Maryland history, Elijah Cummings, died in October 2019. Cummings was a civil rights activist, the first African American to be named Speaker Pro Tem in the Maryland House of Delegates, and a congressman. In a February 2019 letter to lawmakers, Cummings supported the End-of-Life Option Act that would allow terminally ill adults in Maryland to obtain prescription medication they could decide to take to peacefully end unbearable suffering.

“… I have experienced the loss of far too many people … some of whom suffered for months knowing they were about to die,” Cummings wrote in the letter read by then-Del. Shane E. Pendergrass during the committee hearing on the Maryland End-of-Life Option Act. “… An individual’s right to self-determination about one of the most personal decisions that anyone could make supersedes the moral sensibilities of others.”

Some might be surprised to learn that a bill seeking to authorize medical aid in dying is named after Cummings this year, as well as the original bill author, the recently retired Pendergrass (The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings and the Honorable Shane E. Pendergrass Act). Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, provided written testimony for hearings before the Senate reaffirming his support for the bill.

“One of the hardest things my late husband Elijah Eugene Cummings ever said to me was, ‘I am ready to die.’ Suffering from medical complications related to kidney disease, thymic cancer and a heart valve transplant, Elijah and I had a number of extended hospital stays over the previous two and a half years before his death. But this time was different,” she wrote. “Elijah firmly supported the End-of-Life Option Act … Marylanders who are suffering from terminal illnesses deserve the right to choose when and how they end their lives. The Maryland legislature must respect their dignity and right to self-determination by passing the End-of-Life Option Act.”

This legislation has been introduced for seven of the last eight years, seven years too many for so many Marylanders who die from terminal illness every year and who want this option if their suffering becomes too great.

Maryland is a proud state, everyone knows its flag, which Marylanders display wherever they can. The time is now for our lawmakers to make us proud and pass this compassionate legislation so people nearing the end of their lives know they won’t suffer needlessly when they die.

Alyson Lynch, Riva

Annual Father’s Day Foundation honors Broadneck Peninsula history

Our children need our presence. Daily we read and see on television our youth in stressful situations. Too often, they are the victims of a failed system. They and their parents are often accused of not caring. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As a single parent in 2021, I was inspired to start a nonprofit organization called the Annual Father’s Day Foundation. Our members are men from Browns Woods, Clay Hill, Mulberry Hill, Log Inn and Skidmore, African American communities on the Broadneck Peninsula.

These communities have a rich history; our mission is to teach our children and the community that history. Also, we seek to be role models for our children. We want them to know that the narrative often given on the role of Black men and their families is false. The vast majority of Black fathers want their children to live productive lives. We have many Black men from these communities who have played a vital role in this county.

To name a few: Gerald Stansbury, former president of the Maryland State NAACP and William Rowel, a senior adviser to Mayor Gavin Buckley. These men and many others were raised on the Broadneck Peninsula.

Yet, many of our children are unaware of their achievements and accomplishments. We plan to change that. Recently, we received a grant from St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church that will be used to research and document the culture and history of African Americans living on the Broadneck. We believe it is important children know their history. We believe strong families make strong communities. We cannot wait for public schools to teach our children their history.

We believe families are an important institution in any community. On April 1, at 6: p.m., we will host our “Family Ball,” held at the Firemark Building, 8684 Veterans Highway, Millersville. This annual ball celebrates families and promote community engagement. The event is open to the public. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children. Please join us as we celebrate our families and communities.

Also, I want to thank members of our board of directors, including Rodney Parker, Jr., Curtis Gross, Jr., Brandon Johnson, Tyrone Johnson and James Henson Jr. If you are interested in learning more about our organization, please visit our website

It was Rev. Jesse Jackson who said Black men’s “presence is needed more than presents.” We believe the greatest contribution we can make to our youth is to be present. Again, we look forward to you joining us as we mind our nation that our youth should not be cannon fodder nor canonized, they should be respected and protected.

Devon Edwards, Glen Burnie

Edwards is the president of the annual Father’s Day Foundation

Perspective on red tide blooms in Florida

In his opinion piece March 19, Gerald Winegrad wrote from Naples, Florida, about the red tide bloom the Florida Gulf Coast is experiencing. In his piece, Winegrad implies that the population increase and residential development that the state of Florida has seen since 1995 is responsible for these algae blooms.

Ironically, in that same piece, he writes he is in Florida visiting his daughter and grandchildren to, in his words, “enjoy the sun and lush greeness” as well as the “the very nice, accessible beaches and parks.” Apparently, Winegrad excuses his own family’s devastating environmental impact as residents of Florida, but somehow sees the influx of anyone else who seeks to live there being worthy of condemnation.

And for a bit of perspective, according to the New York Times, one of the first records of red tide dates back to 1799 near Sitka, Alaska, which was hardly an overdeveloped residential destination.

R.S.Scanlon, Annapolis

Taking issue with ‘arrogant, condescending’ commentary

I have been reading The Capital for more years than I can count and always enjoyed reading the Opinion Page and Letters to the Editor.

I didn’t always agree with the opinions published, but they always seemed to respect the readers. However, the opinion written by Tom Smith on March 8 was the most arrogant and condescending piece I can recall reading in The Capital.

I am sure that Smith’s position in the city government is very important and at times very frustrating. However, he seems to assume all readers know what he is talking about and what he has to deal with in interpreting the Annapolis City Code. Smith then goes on to basically imply that some people (especially your reporter) who deal with the Adequate Public Facilities issue are either stupid or confused. I used to be a public servant and would never have dreamed of writing such a letter — even if I had the same frustration and feelings.

I hope that in the future you will be more careful about the local opinions you publish.

E. W. Cassidy

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