Every Sunday in this column, I’ll run through some arts and culture highlights from Baltimore and the D.C., Maryland and Virginia region — and when it makes sense, some broader, nonlocal topics, too. Plus, every now and then I’ll provide some of my favorite tunes.

This week I cover the historic AFRO newspaper’s annual (60+ years and counting) Mrs. Santa holiday giveaway, a cool art-making class at the Walters for your weekend outing and a new Christmas carol cover by D.C. singer Ari Lennox.

Afro Charities’ Mrs. Santa Annual Toy Giveaway

Afro Charities — the nonprofit that manages the historic AFRO newspaper’s archives — has a popular annual holiday event that also offers some Black history lessons. Part of Afro Charities’ mission is to host activations that familiarize Black communities with its archives as a valuable resource. The organization wants to make historic information more accessible. The decades-old Mrs. Santa holiday celebration, which was held Saturday, was expected to have a toy giveaway, crafts for kids, food by Mera Kitchen, a holiday photo station with Baltimore photographer Marqel Allen and hot cocoa by Black Acres Roastery.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Ari Lennox gives her rendition of a Christmas classic

D.C. native and neo-soul titan Ari Lennox recently did what every self-respecting R&B star does in the prime of their career and dropped her own rendition of a classic Christmas carol. For her selection, she chose “My Favorite Things” to put her pristine, sultry voice to the test. It’s a great pick, considering how many other greats have given it a spin — Luther Vandross, John Legend and Mary J. Blige, just to name a few. Lennox’s version doesn’t seem to be part of a larger full-length project, but I’d be first in line if she ever decided to give us a complete Christmas album.

Make your own art at The Walters this weekend

The Walters Art Museum will host it’s final drop-in art-making workshop of the year from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. According to the museum’s website, this weekend’s theme is based around memory, but people who drop in can sketch whatever comes to mind. As with all the other drop-ins held at the space, visitors will be encouraged to pull inspiration from the museum’s current collection, which is rich in Southeast Asian art from centuries past. The event is for all ages.


Lawrence Burney was The Baltimore Banner’s arts & culture reporter. He was formerly a columnist at The Washington Post, senior editor at The FADER, and staff writer at VICE music vertical Noisey. 

More From The Banner