The Westport area, located off the Baltimore Washington Parkway, was once the pride of many middle-class blacks, earning above average income from the industrial complexes in the area. What was once the “Georgia plantation” in Maryland fell into hard times, when many of such industries “left town” as the Baltimore Colts football team did.
Westport, Mount Winans, Lakeland, suffered for almost 40 years, with politicians, not even panhandling to save the communities. Then Martin O’Malley in 1999 (a white man) succeeded Kurt Schmoke, (a black Rhodes Scholar, and 2 terms elected,) became mayor of Baltimore City.In 2004, he launched a revitalizing program, to bring Westport et
back to life.
O’Malley, though no longer in the political game, and vilified by many, is seeing his seeds begin to bear fruit. Arm and Armor, a Maryland athletic shoe and clothing company has made a philanthropic gesture to Westport, beginning with one of the oldest schools in the country, Westport Elementary, now Westport Academy.
The current Mayor, an African American, admitted her budget could not help the struggling students, who were without a proper library, or gym, with fresh paint. Residents wanted a school that inspired learning, and not one that looked like a neglected shack, waiting for the demolition crew.
Very few parents were in attendance at the morning cutting ceremony, and at the subsequent community meetings. Where were they. Is it that they do not believe it’s going to last and grow into a place that it once was, or have the residents lost pride and fight, after being down for so many years?
If that be the case, a rescue could take more than a gift to the elementary school attendees.