A film on Baltimore squeegee workers that’s free from the usual “abhorrent conversation”
Screening tomorrow at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, “By Any Means Necessary” lets the people who work the intersections explain what they do and why
Above: A documentary lets Baltimore’s squeegee workers speak at length and tell their stories. (lewismuseum.org)
Over the many years of controversy about the people who squeegee cars for money at Baltimore intersections, there’s often a glaring flaw:
The voices of those who do the squeegee-ing are left out of the conversation.
Not so with this documentary film, “By Any Means Necessary: Stories of Survival,” airing at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum at 830 East Pratt Street tomorrow (Tuesday, October 17) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
First screened in Baltimore in 2019, the documentary consists mostly of one-on-one conversations with the people who squeegee – primarily young Black men and boys.
Shauntee Daniels explained to Brandon Soderberg, writing three years ago for BmoreArt, why she reached out to filmmakers to encourage them to take on the project.
A documentary could “tell the story of these young men and women that are doing this work and why they are doing it” free from “the abhorrent conversation about what they do,” said Daniels, who is executive director of the Baltimore National Heritage Area.
Tony Mendez, who directed the film, told Soderberg he learned that squeegeeing is part of a tradition of hustle, a way to make a living when opportunities are few.
“You think about the arabbers, you think about boot blacks, you think about people who did these odd jobs to make a way in the urban environment,” he said. “What do you do? Sell water, squeegee windows.”
The screening comes at a time when tensions remain high in the city over the issue.
An altercation between squeegee workers and a bat-wielding motorist in July resulted in the fatal shooting of Timothy Reynolds and first-degree murder charges filed against a 15-year-old boy.
Mayor Brandon Scott took aim at the issue with a “squeegee collaborative” that brought community members and others together for meetings that have been taking place since July. And Reynolds’ family responded by filing suit against the city for failing to enforce laws that they said would have prevented the fatal encounter.
“Spurred on by an organization’s interest in the stories behind those we see every day at our city’s intersections, By Any Means Necessary contextualizes this sector,” according to the description on the museum’s event page.
“It provides interviews with those who participate, allowing for first-person accounts of the ‘why’ behind squeegeeing and presenting the concept that the reasons and the participants are not monolithic.”
To sign up for the free screening and panel discussion, go to this event page:
• By Any Means Necessary: Film Screening and Discussion (Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture)
The discussion is to be moderated by Terri Lee Freeman, the museum’s executive director, with panel members Shauntee Daniels, Jason Bass, director of culture and impact at Hotel Revival, and Baltimore Deputy Mayor Faith Leach.