Report highlights successes of black men in Baltimore

160-page study offers solutions to problems

January 15, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Hoping to counter negative stereotypes of African-American men, the Schmoke administration released a report yesterday that details the successes of Baltimore's black males and outlines ways to resolve problems in the community, including the murderous violence on city streets.

The report, a 160-page book called the "Report on the State of African American Males in Baltimore City and the Baltimore Metropolitan Area," is a 16-month project by the mayor's office and 10 area colleges and universities.

Some of the findings are grim: Blacks males are arrested more than 10 times as often as white males for such crimes as homicide and robbery.

Other findings show promise: Baltimore has consistently produced prominent black male leaders, from Benjamin Banneker, who in 1792 was the first African-American to receive a presidential appointment, to the success of the late entrepreneur Reggie Lewis, amassed a fortune estimated at $400 million. Lewis died in 1993.

"There are some hurdles we have to overcome," said Ricky Smith, chairman of the Mayor's Commission on African American Males, which helped prepare the report."But we've made a great deal of progress."

The report calls for such actions as more job-training programs; a revision of child support regulations to reduce the financial burden on low-income fathers; and monitoring teachers' attitudes toward black males to help bolster self-esteem.

In addition, the report recommends that the city find ways to resolve the economic and educational disparities faced by low-income people, which researchers believe will help prevent the financial distress that leads to such crimes as robbery and murder.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke initiated the study in 1995. At that time, the city had 199,450 black male residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. The commission was asked to examine issues concerning black males, who made up about a third of the city's population. Volunteer researchers produced the book. The city paid $3,500 for 300 copies.

The Schmoke administration is organizing a series of town meetings to discuss the book. "The plan calls for a partnership between government and community to address areas highlighted in the report," Schmoke said. "So we are going to need the input and reaction from the public.

"But I am hopeful that candidates for mayor will read the report and consider developing their own proposals to address some of these issues."

Pub Date: 1/15/99

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