On 20 May, the board of directors for Pride of Baltimore II
announced that the ship would be staying at the dock for the remainder of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Five days after this announcement, George Floyd was killed by law enforcement in Minneapolis
and the country exploded in protests. Maryland saw protests across the state, with Baltimore as the epicenter.
As the Pride’s onboard crew prepared the ship for a lengthy layup, the organization’s board chair, Jayson T. Williams, considered how the ship might
be proactive within the Baltimore community and released the following statement
about how Pride of Baltimore, Inc., is prepared to become an “agent of change.”
When I was a kid, my father—a cabdriver—drove me all over Baltimore City to teach me lessons during the time we spent together.
He would educate me about the different communities and warn me about communities I should not go to alone.
One such area was the Inner Harbor, where he warned me that, as a young black man, I could find myself in trouble even if it was not my fault.
My father said he hoped that someday I could help change that for other young black and brown people.
That it was our Inner Harbor, too.
One of the first places my father took me that I can remember in the harbor was aboard Pride of Baltimore II.
I loved the water and I loved “pirate ships.” When I told a crewmember that it was a cool pirate ship,
he corrected me and told me it was a privateer, which he explained was like a legal pirate ship.
It turns out that this particular crewmember was the captain, and he then gave me a tour of the ship.
That captain could not have known that 30 years later, that eight-year-old kid would become the first black chair of the board of directors of Pride of Baltimore, Inc.
Nor could he have known (well, maybe he had a hunch) that he would still be the captain of Pride II today.
Thank you, Captain Jan Miles, for taking the time to make sure my first impression of Pride was a welcoming one.
As the first black chair of the board that manages a ship built to serve as Maryland’s goodwill ambassador
I was called upon to be an agent of change.
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