AFRAM, the annual celebration of African American culture returns to Festival Hall this weekend with cultural exhibits, arts and crafts and a variety of food.
The theme of the 16th annual Showcase of Nations African-American Exposition, sponsored by the Urban Development Foundation and 14 private corporations, is "The African-American Woman: An Emerging Force," says Dorothy Jordan, spokeswoman for AFRAM.
"This is 'The Year of the Woman,' " Ms. Jordan says. Politically and in the business world, "women are moving into more and more responsible positions," she says. Besides the fun, games and crafts of the festival, AFRAM is a celebration of different segments of the African American community. "So, this year, we thought it would be appropriate to honor [women]," she says.
A luncheon kicked off the festivities yesterday. The gathering honored 15 Baltimore area women -- from a judge to an artist -- who have contributed to the black community in areas such as business, arts, public service and education.
Jazz singer Ruby Glover was among those honored. AFRAM organizers say that Mrs. Glover deserves the honor because of "her willingness to utilize her musical talents for the betterment of her friends, family, neighbors and fellow citizens."
Mrs. Glover, who says being honored by the community means a lot to her, has been dubbed "Baltimore's Godmother of Jazz" and can't remember a time when she wasn't singing jazz.
I have always been into jazz," she says. "My mom played gospel, classical and jazz and that's all I listened to. My mom sang also. I have always heard beautiful music."
Mrs. Glover, 62, is dedicated to passing along the torch by exposing young people to jazz. This is accomplished through a corporation she began in 1986 called Jazz Sweets, Inc. which sponsors workshops and recitals at schools, museums, art centers and parks.
"I learned from Baltimore musicians," Mrs. Glover says explaining why she enjoys giving back to the community. "They allowed me to perfect the character and sound that belongs to me. They were very supportive."
Dr. Annelle Primm, a psychiatrist and an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Medical School, is also among the honorees. She was chosen by AFRAM because of her commitment and expertise in the psychiatric field.
Previously, Dr. Primm worked at Provident Hospital (now Liberty Medical Center) and Springfield State Hospital where she was the director of the City Division.
Psychiatry, Dr. Primm says, was a natural choice for her.
"I've wanted to be a psychiatrist since I was very young," says Dr. Primm, 36, who serves as medical director of COSTAR (Community Support Treatment and Rehabitation), a psychiatric outreach program at Hopkins which involves home visits to severely mentally ill people.
"We have seen so many people who were in terrible shape who are now employed and who have re-established relationships with families and friends," says Dr. Primm who was born in New Rochelle, N.Y. but has lived in Baltimore for about a decade.
Dr. Primm says that seeing patients "rejuvenated" means a lot to the COSTAR staff. "The rewards have been tremendous," she says.
Besides celebrating local women, AFRAM festivities, which begin today, will include Maryland vendors offering African and local foods and craft stalls filled with jewelry, art and clothing.
Among the vendors will be Cheick Kamissoko, of Baltimore who sells imported, handmade clothes from Mali, Gambia and Ghana. Susan Sari, of Hyattsville who own Ola Olu Caterers, will demonstrate how to make yam porridge, a Nigerian dish.
Festival-goers also may listen to the soulful crooning of the Manhattans or the sweet love songs of Ray Goodman and Brown, two of the nationally known acts scheduled to appear throughout the weekend.
A highlight of AFRAM always has been the annual parade (see map) which will be held at noon tomorrow, featuring marching bands, clowns and antique cars.
The other women honored are: Rev. Vashti Murphy McKenzie; Jacqueline McLean, Baltimore comptroller; Beverly Burke, WMAR-TV newscaster; Inez Chappel, community activist; Frances Murphy Draper, Afro-American Newspaper Group president; Elnora Fullwood, vice president, Fullwood Foods, Inc.; Bea Gaddy, homeless advocate; Mary Carter Smith, folklorist and author; Julia Woodland, educator and volunteer; Edmonia T. Yates, educator; Judge Mabel Hubbard, Baltimore Circuit Court; Yvonne F. Lansey, bank president and CEO; Reva Lewie, artist and educator.
Where: Festival Hall and the adjoining grounds.
When: Today through Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. each day.
Fee: $3; family tickets: $6.
What: AFRAM parade.
When: noon, Saturday.
Where: Parade begins at Eutaw and Dolphin streets. Eutaw Street, Chase Street, Cathedral Street, Liberty Street, Hopkins Place and Sharp Street will be closed for about two hours. Eastbound traffic on Martin Luther King Boulevard will be detoured north on McCulloh Street to Dolphin Street.
Call: (410) 225-7896.