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Executive Director’s Letter March 19, 2019

Mothers, sister, aunts, grandmothers, caregivers, life-givers, spirit carriers, storytellers, holders of our history—women have so many roles. Today, many women are mourners crying for the dead in New Zealand. They are joined in the sorrow by their female Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who lifts up the victims by choosing to speak only their names, not that of the terrorist who murdered them. Through her language, she honors them and wants to erase him.

Names are so much a part of human identity. In Baltimore, the names of the murdered were once published in the Baltimore City Paper, and now are read by Tom Hall on WYPR. It is a small but meaningful way we work to remember the people and their stories, a way to keep from being desensitized to the numbers. It is way to use our language to acknowledge one another in life and beyond. There are women leaders in Baltimore like Erricka Bridgeford, who worked to repeal Maryland’s death penalty and now organizes Baltimore Ceasefire. She honors not only the dead, but also the worth of the living.

Words can be used for dirge or celebration. They can help us understand our condition and passage through grief to a new period of understanding. From Maya Angelou’s “When Great Trees Fall:”

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

Throughout the month, GBCA continues its series of blog posts from women in nonprofit arts leadership positions. The latest is from Port Discovery Children’s Museum Executive Director, and GBCA Vice President, Bryn Parchman. You can read her thoughts here.

All my best,


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