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February Redeems Itself

Mild weather, good stories, holidays and commemorations 

       A few weeks back, I spoke disrespectfully of February as my least favorite month (www.bayweekly.com/node/41847). I take it back.
       How can I speak ill of a 63-degree February morning, especially when the reversal of those numbers would have seemed a blessing of warmth on many a morning in January?
      All month long, February reminds us to go hunting for the too-often forgotten stories of black Americans. We can put faces to a few well-known names, like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, who chose February 14 to mark the approximate date of his birth in 1818. But how much more there is to know! That’s the illumination I experience whenever I dig into an old story.
     Taking advantage of Black History Month’s opportunities for engagement, we looked last week at the illuminating story quilts of Dr. Joan Gaither. That artist’s mission is documenting in vivid detail our own histories. I am so pleased that another quilter, Prue Hoppin, told Gaither’s story. As Prue reminds us, you still have a week to see Gaither’s quilt show, Freedom: Emancipation Quilted & Stitched, at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore.   
       We end this surprisingly generous February with another pair of black history stories, both projects of our amazing Maryland State Archives to “return the voices and faces to people gripped by the drama of slavery in Maryland.” That’s how Chris Haley, director of the Archives’ Study of the Legacy of Slavery explains ongoing projects that have added more than 400,000 to the Archives’ database regarding the lives of free and enslaved African Americans. Now, you’ll read in Bill Sells’ first story for Bay Weekly, how it’s now Calvert County’s turn.
       As well as names, descriptions and facts, faces are adding to the dignity and information record of enslaved people. Starting with words from historic documents, forensic artist Lt. Donald C. Stahl is using modern computer technology to reconstruct faces, showing what the people behind the words looked like in life.
      About the amazing work of this forensic artist from the criminal investigations division of the Charles County Sheriff’s office, you’ll read in Debbie Driscoll’s story The Faces of Freedom.
      All month long, 8 Days a Week has featured special opportunities to get to know black history better this month. I hope this section has inspired you to take these walking tours, see these exhibits and get your free copy of Bicentennial Edition, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave at Banneker Douglass Museum just off Church Circle in Annapolis.
        So this February has treated us pretty well, with spring-like temperatures and good Bay Weekly stories.
      When next we meet it will be March, either lion or lamb.