Eleven Maryland Carey Law faculty members received a special recognition award from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), for their work in developing Freddie Gray’s Baltimore, an eight-week course that explores the causes of and possible solutions to the unrest in Baltimore last spring.
“[The course’s] success is a testament to what we can do — and the speed with which we can do it — when we harness the passion, the dedication, and the commitment of this UMB community,” said UMB President Jay Perman during a ceremony marking the university’s observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s achievements and Black History Month.
The course attracted almost 80 law and social work students as well as extensive media coverage when it was introduced in Fall 2015. It’s being repeated this semester at the law school and also offered to undergraduates at the University of Maryland in College Park.
In addition to teaching part of the course, Professor Michael Greenberger served as its administrator. Faculty members who taught individual sessions included Barbara Bezdek, Deborah Eisenberg, Leigh Goodmark, Toby Guerin, Diane Hoffmann, Renee Hutchins, Sherrilyn Ifill, Susan Leviton, Michael Pinard and Deborah Weimer.
UMB also recognized the achievements of The Honorable Robert M. Bell, former chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, and a member of the Maryland Carey Law Board of Visitors.
In his wide-ranging, 25-minute keynote address, Bell, the first African-American to be named the state’s chief jurist, spoke of how some question the need for Black History Month since it is really American history. But he pointed out it was celebrations like these that as a child taught him about inventors like Charles Drew, intellectuals like W.E.B. Du Bois, scientists like George Washington Carver, and athletes like Joe Louis.
“It was during these weeks that I also learned of the hardships they endured,” said Bell, a Baltimorean who attended Dunbar High School and Morgan State College before earning his law degree at Harvard.
While at Dunbar in 1960, Bell joined in a protest against segregation that proved historic when the group sat down at Hooper’s restaurant and was denied service and arrested. “Who would ever have thought 27 years after being acquitted of trespassing by the Court of Appeals that I would be sitting on the very same court that originally upheld my conviction,” said a smiling Bell, who in 1975 began his nearly four decades of service on the Maryland bench at the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, and the Court of Appeals of Maryland.
But with rights come responsibilities, Bell reminded the UMB audience.
“The civic engagement of the people is essential to the vitality and health and continuation of our democracy. That requires some effort. There has to be a commitment to remaining informed.”