So who's Baltimore's most famous politician?

Who is the most famous modern-day politician from Baltimore?  Is it Elijah Cummings, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee?  Chairman Cummings has been in the news lately whether it be sparring with President Trump as he has now, or else bringing in Trump's onetime lawyer, Michael Cohen, in front of his committee to determine if he truly did visit Prague.  Is it octogenarian Steny Hoyer, No. 2 to the Speaker of the House, famous for being a yes-man?  What about the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who had been a candidate running for president, Dr. Ben Carson?  Dr. Carson is the famous pediatric neurosurgeon who practiced at Johns Hopkins. Or how about the Speaker of the House, a.k.a., SanFranNan?  But she’s the wealthy Congresswoman from Northern California.  Well actually, Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi was born and raised in Baltimore.

I'm going to vote for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and present to you what's become of her city of Baltimore. 

In 2007, they named a street in Baltimore after her.  Speaker Pelosi’s father was mayor when I was a kid growing up in downtown Baltimore.  Speaker Pelosi grew up in Little Italy where her father, Tommy D’Alesandro Jr. socialized with Benny Trotta Magliano.  Let’s put it this way.  Benny was not the founder of Godfather’s Pizza. Speaker Pelosi was raised a devout Roman Catholic, and like many of us, were sent to Catholic schools.  These schools were considered better than the public schools of the day.  Many young ladies went on to all-girls Catholic high schools like Speaker Pelosi.  Some of us boys went to all-boys Catholic high schools. 

Today, Baltimore is a miserable place, full of urban decay and angry race relations. In the 1950s, when I grew up, racial relations in Baltimore were very different from what they are today in Baltimore.  I am white, and at the time, most of my friends were black.  We knew nothing about racism.  We were kids doing what kids do.  When I look back, I remember grandparents of black friends watching Amos 'n' Andy on TV and laughing so hard that their sides were almost splitting.  Now I’m told that the once-radio and then-television show was extremely racist.  I still whistle Zippity Doo Dah now and then as a childhood memory of a film that I’m told is racist, the Song of the South.  As a kid there was no prism that fractured light into many colors, or none at all.  My Dad was from “coal country” of southwestern Virginia.  Many called him a hillbilly because of his accent and where he grew up.  He did have some respect for having been injured in WWII as a sailor in the Pacific.  We ended up moving to the suburbs when Dad found a better-paying job and our family was expanding.  That didn’t stop us from taking the bus to Memorial Stadium to catch an Orioles game and sit in the nosebleed section for 75 cents with our old friends from downtown.

As a kid, my heroes were the “Robinson Brothers,” Frank and Brooks, Boog Powell, Gus Triandos, Luis Aparicio, Hoyt Wilhelm and other baseball greats.  Camden Yards is one of the most beautiful stadiums in major league baseball.  I thought Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Ray Berry, Bubba Smith, Gino Marchetti, Alan Ameche, and others walked on football water.  It pained me to no end when the Baltimore Colts left for Indianapolis.  The Colts as a mascot made a lot of sense considering that there were so many beautiful horse ranches in Maryland.  Kentucky might have the Derby but we had the Preakness.

Baltimore loves its sports and longed for a football team.  They got the team from Cleveland and needed a new name since their old home city demanded the name be kept there.  After much anguish, they pared the list of names to two pseudo other teams’ names, Marauders (Raiders) and Americans (Patriots), and the Ravens.  Eventually the name of one of Edgar Allen Poe’s works was chosen for the team.  Poe lived in Baltimore and is buried there.  The common definition for Raven is a large heavily built black bird, crow with mainly black plumage, feeding chiefly on carrion.

Baltimore is less than 50 miles from Washington DC.  With nearly a quarter of the population living in poverty, it makes one wonder.  How much time does Speaker Pelosi spend in her old neighborhood?  How much hope has she given the people from her old neighborhood to become a millionaire and powerful woman such as herself? 

The city's demographics have changed a lot in Baltimore since Nancy D'Alesandro married Paul Pelosi from San Francisco and then left Maryland.  A Wall Street Journal article published May 1, 2015, showed an overall decline in population in Baltimore from nearly 900,000 in 1970 to about 600,000 in 2015.  In 1970, the ratio of white to black population was about 52% to 48%.  The predominant reduction in population was “white flight.”  About 65% of Baltimore is now black, many of them people who could not escape.  It has one of the lowest diversity indexes of any major city in the U.S. now.  Baltimore has a poverty level of 22.4% and median household income of around $47,100. 

There’s still time Mrs. Pelosi.  On the other hand, doesn’t San Francisco publish a map of where to avoid human feces and drug paraphernalia on public sidewalks?  I wonder if Google has a cleanup team for this disgrace like companies do for picking up garbage along freeways.

Image credit: Urbanfeel, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0