Matt and I spend last weekend and most of this week in Baltimore, both for work. We got to hang out with his cousins, Aerin and Kryan, which was a lot of fun. We also had dinner with them and Aunt Martha and Uncle Steve before coming home. We decided to bag Montreal this weekend. Partly because it is 10 degrees there right now and partly because one city is enough for one week. And it looks like I'll be going there in August for the ASA and SSSP conferences, which is very exciting because I've never gone.
Above are pictures of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, which I thought a few of you boat lovers (one in particular--you know who you are) might enjoy.
Tuesday afternoon my conference ended early so I had several hours to explore Baltimore. It was a lot of fun. It's been awhile since I got to explore a new city on my own. After some walking I stumbled across the Maryland African American History and Culture Museum. I spent 3 hours there and couldn't get through it all. There was a photography exhibit on Black farmers, a couple of whom were from southwest Michigan--Van Buren county (my old Big Brothers Big Sisters territory) and Cass county which was a significant place in the Underground Railroad. Have to give props to my friends the Quakers on that one. It was nice to see a little touch of home in the pictures of the blueberry farms. I miss driving around that part of the world. I remember being in South Haven for work right before we moved to Chicago thinking that I was looking forward to moving on but that I was really leaving something special behind by relocating to the big city. I also remember meeting this wonderful older woman in a remote part of the county who was African American and Native American. Walking into her small farmhouse was like stepping back in time. She had a hutch with vegetables and preserves she canned. She was the sweetest person and I still think of her from time to time.
But back to the museum, it was a great way to learn about the city and the people, and to get away from the touristy area. I felt like I had a much better appreciation for Baltimore after wards. I also learned that the US Capitol Building was built with slave labor. It is so self-evident and yet it had never occured to me before. Despite Congress's recognition of this last summer (about time?), the official US Capitol history online doesn't mention it. Instead it goes on and on about so and so white guy, then another one and another one. Pretty standard. Amazing how we continue to ignore, misconstrue or gloss over painful parts of our history. Spending time there was a good chance to peel away some layers, and a lot more interesting to me than a typical museum.
Since I'm reminiscing, one of the things I regretted when I left Chicago was that I didn't make it to the DuSable museum. I made it to the Mexican Fine Arts museum which is amazing. I highly recommend it. So some day, I'll have to go to both when I'm back. And to the Museum of African-American History in Detroit, which I'm sure has some great local history too. Someday...