Match Point: Fighting Racial Discrimination in Druid Hill Park Pt. 4

Posted on November 22nd, 2017 by

generations 2004 copyArticle by Barry Kessler with Anita Kassof. Originally published in Generations – 2004: Recreation, Sports & Leisure. This particular issue of Generations proved wildly popular and is no longer available for purchase.

Sidebar 1: H.L. Mencken’s Last Column

Missed the beginning? Start Here.

In one of his final columns H.L. Mencken – considered by some both racist and anti-Semitic- surprised his readers with his comments on the continuing controversy over the tennis court protests. As a new student at the University of Maryland in the fall of 1948, Mitzi Freishtat Swan recalls that when the column appeared, she was subject to renewed derision from some of her fellow students, who mocked her for her involvement in the protests.

When, on July 11 last, a gang of so-called Progressives, white and black, went to Druid Hill Park to stage an inter-racial tennis combat and were collared and jugged by the cops, it became instantly impossible for anyone to discuss the matter in a newspaper, save, of course, to report impartially the proceedings in court.

…But four months is a long while for journalists to keep silent on an important public matter, and if I bust out now it is simply and solely because I believe that the purpose of the rule has been sufficiently achieved. The accused have had their day in court, and no public clamor, whether pro or con, has corrupted the judicial process. Seven, it appears, have been adjudged guilty of conspiring to assemble unlawfully and fifteen others have been turned loose.

…But there remains an underlying question, and it deserves to be considered seriously and without any reference whatever to the cases lately at bar. It is this: Has the Park Board any right in law to forbid white and black citizens, if they are so inclined, to join in harmless games together on public playgrounds? Again: Is such a prohibition, even supposing that it is lawful, supported by anything to be found in common sense and common decency?

I do not undertake to answer the first question, for I am too ignorant of law, but my answer to the second is a loud and unequivocal No. A free citizen in a free state, it seems to me, has an inalienable right to play with whomsoever he will, so long as he does not disturb the general peace. If any other citizen, offended by the spectacle, makes a pother, then that other citizen, and not the man exercising his inalienable right, should be put down by the police.

Certainly it is astounding to find so much of the spirit of the Georgia Cracker surviving in the Free State, and under official auspices. The public parts are supported by the taxpayer, including the colored taxpayer, for the health and pleasure of the whole people. Why should cops be sent into them to separate those people, against their will, into separate herds? Why should the law set up distinctions and discriminations which the persons directly affected themselves reject?

…It is high time that all such relics of Ku Kluxery be wiped out in Maryland. The position of the colored people, since the political revolution of 1895, has been gradually improving in the State, and it has already reached a point surpassed by few other states. But there is still plenty of room for further advances, and it is irritating indeed to see one of them blocked by silly Dogberrys. The Park Board rule is irrational and nefarious. It should be got rid of forthwith.”

-“Mencken Calls Tennis Order Silly, Nefarious”, Baltimore Morning Sun, November 9, 1948.

~The End~

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Once Upon a Time…02.24.2017

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church by email at jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

JMM 1995.142.31.16

JMM 1995.142.31.16

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: February 24, 2017

PastPerfect Accession #: 1995.142.031.016

Status: Dueling Identities! Some callers identified the man on the right as Rabbi Vitsick, while others identified him as Alexander Davis, a butcher who worked at Shapiro’s. What’s your vote?

Thanks To: Reva Sufel, David Shapiro, Isaac Samuel (nephew of Alexander Davis), Phil Shapiro

 

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Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day

Posted on November 17th, 2017 by

JMM Insights: November 2017

On October 15th the Jewish Museum of Maryland opened our latest exhibit Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage. We have held six public programs in connection with the exhibit in its first month, averaging an audience of 75+ for each event. However our biggest program is yet to come. I have asked Trillion to outline the festivities we have planned for the first Sunday in December. 

Thanks,

Marvin


Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day is a full day celebration of the rich culture developed by the Jewish community in Iraq and preserved by their descendants across the globe.  I believe our guests will find something suitable for all ages and all tastes and that we will enable greater Baltimore to make a personal connection with that culture.

What can you expect on the day? Here are some of the highlights.

Rabbi Haim Ovadia will be joining us from Washington, DC to perform two concerts that will explore the origins and diversity of Jewish Iraqi music. The morning concert at 11am will be especially designed for kids and families, while the afternoon concert at 2 pm is for everyone.

Feel like dancing?  Enjoy and learn some of the traditional dances of the Iraqi Jewish community with the Silk Road Dance Company. This troop of dancers will actually put on three different performances on the 3rd, starting at 12:30, 1:30 and 3:30 pm.

If there is music and dance, can food be far behind?  Get a real taste of Iraqi Jewish culture, literally. Jackie Feldman of Sephardic Jews in DC, will lead a workshop making Baharat, a spice mixture eaten across the Middle East which is a critical building block for most Iraqi Jewish recipes. This tasty mixture can be taken home and combined into a variety of delicious recipes.

And one more treat for our youngest visitors.  We will also be joined by Violet Battat, representing SHIN DC who will be offering a special Jewish Iraqi story times. Violet will share with us stories passed down through her family, combined with singing and an exploration of Iraq. These sessions are specially designed for children aged 3 to 7 though the young at heart are also welcome.

If that isn’t enough we will also have several arts and crafts opportunities. Activities include making evil eye bracelets, decorating your own tik (the container traditionally used to hold an Iraqi Torah) and even making some delicious date balls to take home, or eat immediately, if you are feeling peckish!

The day is certain to be fun filled, we couldn’t have managed such an extravaganza were it not for the support of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

For more details or to buy your tickets please check our event page here. 

Hope to see you there.

~Trillion

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