For the first time in four years, Baltimore welcomed back Artscape, but Mother Nature had other plans for the weekend. What was planned as a weekend full of art and culture that welcomed many from across the Baltimore area, became a one-day cultural event with a largely washed-out weekend due to heavy rains and threatening winds from Tropical Storm Ophelia. Despite not being able to enjoy the entire weekend of celebrating the arts, AFT-Maryland was present on day one of the cultural festival and distributed hundreds of books as a part of our ongoing partnership with Reading Opens the World.
Given that the weather held off Friday, people in and around Baltimore came to Artscape to enjoy as much of the outdoor event as possible. During the afternoon and early evening hours residents of all ages crowded around the AFT-Maryland tent to choose which books they were taking home for themselves or a young person in their life. There were a range of books for readers of all ages to choose from, including titles featuring Disney and Marvel characters that proved to be a hit among Baltimore comic book fans. Older students and adults gravitated toward titles that told complex stories of well-known childhood antagonists such as Captain Hook.
AFT-Maryland President Kenya Campbell is grateful the weather held off on the first day to allow residents to get a taste of how an event like Artscape galvanizes the city. “It is disappointing the weather did not allow for a weekend full of fun and excitement that typically comes with Artscape, but I am pleased that we did get an opportunity to participate in the festival. It is heartwarming to see the number of Baltimoreans who were so thrilled about receiving free books, especially at a time when there are some across the country discouraging people from reading by banning books. We were able to give away books, and also encourage people to enjoy reading and learning broadly which will only result in a more literate and informed democracy.”
A highlight of the event for the state federation was the number of members who stopped by the table to pick up books for their family – or their students in the case of education professionals. Some Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) Local 340 members were eager to learn that AFT-Maryland will come to their school to distribute books in partnership with AFT’s Reading Opens the World program. Members shared their excitement about the work their union and state federation is doing to support them and their students.
If your local would like to collaborate with AFT-Maryland for a Reading Opens the World event, contact the AFT-Maryland office for more details.