There are many from our Historic Community that have dedicated their lives to “Improv- ing The Quality of Life in The African American Community”. Their efforts span politics, entertainment, education, media and civil rights. They understood all of these issues impacted the bottom line, economic opportunity and inclusion. It is only fitting that we make sure today’s generation and those that following understand this community is ground zero of the battle that has given them the rights they enjoy today.
Understanding we are the caretakers of this sacred community means we have the responsibility to take care of it, rebuild it and pass it on. At least each of us has the responsibility to make sure it is the cleanest and safest community in the country. Those of us that have the resources and where with all to invest and recreate that economic engine our Pennsylvania Avenue once was needs to be engaged. The time is now and we are the who, there is no great champion on the horizon that’s going to do it for us.
Make our forefathers proud and join the movement to continue the struggle. Understand the struggle is economics. Help create jobs, careers, better education and a community that takes care of itself. Help us rebuild “The Royal” as the anchor for economic devel- opment in this great community. Tourism in Baltimore is a 4.7 Billion dollar industry and we have the assets to take advantage of that. All we need to do is build the infrastructure to bring Pennsylvania Avenue and its communities back to the greatness it deserves.
Pennsylvania Avenue referred to as “The Avenue” was considered Baltimore’s premier African American community for many years. This was the shopping district for all Afri- can Americans in the city during the 1920s and 1950s. The Avenue anchored a vibrant neighborhood centered on African American heritage. After the riots of the 1960s the neighborhood began a downward spiral that has been increasingly difficult to stop. Urban Renewal programs of the 1970s were especially devastating to The Avenue, accounting for the loss of many buildings. Most significant was the loss of the famous Royal Theater. Until four years ago, no group was targeting the commercial corridor for improvements. As the residential neighborhoods have gotten stronger, residents want a healthy business district where they can satisfy their daily shopping needs and also reconnect with other business district.
The Pennsylvania Avenue Redevelopment Collaborative (PARC) was created in the late summer of 2000 when designated as a Baltimore Main Street. The Pennsylvania Avenue Task Force, chaired by State Senator Verna L. Jones, produced a study in November 2000 that has helped guide and support program initiatives using the Main Street Approach, developed by the National Trust’s Main Street Center. From 2000 to 2003 PARC has leveraged $563,930 in private investment and 14 new businesses have opened.
In its four years, the staff and members of PARC have worked very hard to reverse the negative image of Pennsylva- nia Avenue and to improve the business district.