Residents of Baltimore were to take the first steps today toward what they hope will become a national movement to rescue cities from federal neglect.
After a rally at Carroll Park in southwest Baltimore, about 100 local residents were to begin a three-day, 38-mile walk to Washington. They hope to be joined there by as many as 10,000 people Saturday for a Save Our Cities rally at the U.S. Capitol.
Saturday's rally will be a prelude to a national Save Our Cities march on Washington in April sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Their demands are clear: Restore federal money for education, housing, health care, environmental protection, community development and job training in the cities.
Organizers of the march and the movement, as they hope this will become, say that federal aid to Baltimore declined by 75 percent, if adjusted for inflation, between 1980 and 1990.
The rally at Carroll Park was to feature Mayor Kurt Schmoke, Council President Mary Pat Clarke, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-3rd, and Rabbi Ira Schiffler. Scheduled to perform were the Coppin State Choir, the Westsiders Marching Band and the winners of the Save Our Cities rap contest.
The walkers were to leave from Carroll Park and follow U.S. 1 to Savage, where they plan to spend tonight. Tomorrow, they are to walk to College Park, and then to Washington on Friday.
In Washington, they will walk to the west side of the Capitol for a three-hour rally beginning at 11 a.m. They figure to be joined by thousands of people who will drive or ride in buses from Baltimore, and by delegations from cities across the United States.
About 40 buses will take people from Baltimore to Washington on Saturday. Most buses will leave Memorial Stadium at 9 a.m. Saturday. People can call 342-7404 to reserve a seat on a bus for $5.
The rally in Washington is to feature speakers, including Schmoke and former Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, and entertainment, including the Charm City Choir, the D.C. Homeless Choir, the Tropical Heat Steel Band, the Softones and the Polkats.
The march on Washington was the brainchild of Mitchell, a Baltimore Democrat who retired in 1986 after 16 years in Congress. He and Sister Katherine Corr, director of Baltimore Jobs with Peace, are co-chairs of the march.