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    Pennsylvania Avenue: The place Black artwork and leisure was celebrated in Baltimore

    BALTIMORE — Within the early-to-mid twentieth century, Pennsylvania Avenue was the Broadway of outdated West Baltimore. 

    Folks got here from across the nation to rejoice Black artwork and leisure.

    “Whether or not it was Louis Armstrong, whether or not it was the Temptations, the Miracles, whether or not it was Patti LaBelle, all of these people performed the Royal Theatre,” Baltimore resident James Hamlin stated.

    Hamlin grew up in Baltimore and owns the Avenue Bakery on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

    He stated in the event you wished to make it in showbiz again then, the Royal Theatre was the place you needed to be at your greatest.

    “For those who didn’t do nicely on the Royal Theatre in Baltimore, you weren’t going to make it within the leisure enterprise,” Hamlin stated.

    The Chitlin’ Circuit was a Black theatre circuit.

    It was a gaggle of venues all through america that allowed Black artists to carry out throughout the period of racial segregation. 

    “In New York, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Chicago, even some elements of Boston, African-American entertainers would discover locations owned by and operated by African-People the place they may really specific their artwork type with out the Jim Crow glare,” stated Dr. Ida Jones, a Baltimore historian.

    Again within the day, Pennsylvania Avenue was the middle of the Black leisure world.

    That each one modified in 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed.

    “Riots passed off in cities throughout the nation, and it occurred proper right here on Pennsylvania Avenue as nicely,” Hamlin stated. “The issue is that somebody made the choice that Pennsylvania was not price revitalization. It has been deserted, actually uncared for, for over 50-some years.”

    Pennsylvania Avenue hasn’t regarded the identical since.

    “If you speak concerning the crime and what is going on on, you speak concerning the tradition,” Hamlin stated. “We have got to alter the tradition. In an effort to change the tradition, now we have to teach our people on our historical past and our legacy. We have now to alter this atmosphere that our younger individuals are dwelling in. They don’t have any sense of how they’re dwelling in essentially the most historic African-American group within the nation. They don’t have any sense of the historical past and due to this fact they do not have that sense of delight and dignity that now we have rising up right here.”