“Demolition by neglect” protest set for noon tomorrow


Read’s Drug Store, in the 1960s, along a bustling Lexington Street.

Photo by: Baltimore Museum of Industry

The Baltimore Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Occupy4Jobs Network are calling for a protest of the poor condition of a city-owned building in west Baltimore where a historic 1955 civil rights sit-in was staged.

The protest will start at noon tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 18) at the corner of Lexington and Howard streets in front of the former Read’s Drug Store. The building is part of the “Superblock” redevelopment project championed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

After protests last year, Rawlings-Blake agreed to preserve the exterior walls of the Read’s building and install a suitable commemoration of the sit-in by Morgan State students that desegregated the drug store chain.

Last month, The Brew reported that the roof of the Read’s building had collapsed – and a promised temporary roof wouldn’t be installed for months. The story quoted several members of the city’s preservation commission worried that the building might collapse.

Tomorrow’s protest is aimed at pressuring the city administration to put on a roof to ensure that the building is preserved.

“Saving Read’s and elevating the history of this period is relevant to the urgent struggle for jobs and justice, education, housing and health care,” say the protesters, which include members of Occupy Baltimore who were evicted from their camp at McKeldin Square by the city in December.

See here for more on the “Campaign to Save Read’s Drug Store and Defend Baltimore’s Black History.”


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  • Ktrueheart

    I wonder if the protesters know that the city received 7 bids to stablize the building after Wednesday’s Board of Estimates meeting.

    • Iam Gayle

      Do you know about “Baltimore’s West Side Story?”  There’s an eye opening documentary film about this from 10 years ago.

  • Sclcbaltocity

    Yes Ms Trueheart we are aware of that. We have pushed the city to make advancements, however, the city has had knowledge of the bldgs needs for past decade and has done absolutely nothing without being pushed. The bids that you speak of were supposse to have already been submitted. We are demonstrating, and taking further action because we have no confidence in the city’s interest in following through. The Mayor has made it clear that she stands on this issue, and its not beside the preservationist or the people

  • Freddie

    This entire westside development is a total waste of time. There is only so much “downtown money” available and it isn’t going to go there. Unless there is something at the Hippodromenthe the area is dead at night. It is simply to edgy an area. You will have a hard time getting the suburban dollar down there.

  • Cosmolly

    I was wondering if this Read’s also had a restaurant/ soda fountain inside. The Read’s I worked at was called Town and Country. I used to be a cook at the Perring Pkwy Store, Towson, MD for 6 years working there after school hours and beyond.  I worked there until they closed, This was in the mid-seventies.

  • Unellu

    This whole sad affair reminded me of a poem I wrote long ago—


    We’ll squeeze the juice of our existence
    and drink it with a dash of lime and soda–
    over the ruins of a history we’ll never make–
    because nobody will ever know we lived and died–
    like kings and queens–
    for when we fight, we do it–
    in the obscurity of a home–
    where there are no guns and grimy fingers–
    no black outs or corpses to feed swooping vultures–
    no blood, brine or complex perverse urges–
    that entwine to make empires.

    We’ve butted heads–
    thrown battle stained words
    through bedroom doors–
    we’ve carried on with greater lust
    and greater force than men
    who decide the destiny of nations–
    but when we win the victory–
    or sign the truce–
    there are no recorded speeches–
    no unfurling of flags from the spires
    of giant buildings–
    no national holidays–
    and nobody calls us heroes–
    or carve our important dates on stones–

    I know it’s unfair that history will cheat us–
    with not even a simple facade
    of where we dreamed to celebrate us–
    not even an exterior wall
    of where we protested to preserve us–
    there will be no songs or sagas or legends about us–
    because we never scattered bombs or bullets–
    nobody will ever know….

    Usha Nellore

  • K C Karma10

    Thank you for your concise but poignant reporting on READS DRUG STORE.  It is only because of people such as ‘BALTIMORE BREW’ that motivates me to continue on in the struggle for all peoples.  A new supporter of  the Brew.  Peace,k.c.karma 10

  • Cwals99

    The city of Baltimore has a pattern of development by neglect as seen with the recent privitization of community recreation centers.  We found only by strong protest that there was a grand master plan for larger, regional recreation centers that justified the neglect and privitization of existing centers in the eyes of politicians.  The demonstrations at Read’s Drug Store, of which I am glad to have attended, will force open similarly closed plans, hopefully this time allowing for community comment. 

  • PH

    It was great along the Howard & Lexington street corridors in the 60s. Read’s, movie theaters,  and all the top department stores were still there as well.  Look at the photo. Businessmen congregated, talking and reading the paper. I could spot only one, perhaps two blacks in the shot. Today, the area is trashy,  and long since taken over by blacks.

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