We’ve seen Gov. Wes Moore speak a few sentences in Spanish from time to time, and now he’s dabbling in another language: American Sign Language.

At a bill signing ceremony this week, the Democrat highlighted one of the measures receiving his signature: the Maryland Sign Language Interpreters Act.

The act creates a new State Board of Sign Language Interpreters to regulate and license interpreters. The lead sponsors were Sen. Nancy King, a Montgomery County Democrat, and Del. Heather Bagnall, an Anne Arundel County Democrat.

Moore said the act will “ensure that our sign interpreters are of the highest quality all across the state.” He noted that he was signing the bill on National Sign Language Interpreter Appreciation Day, and he thanked interpreters for their work, especially those who work at government meetings and events.

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Then he switched to American Sign Language, signing: “Thank you for all that you do. You make our state strong. Together, we leave no one behind.”

Here’s video of the governor’s remarks in American Sign Language. For those who know ASL: How did he do?

Watch on YouTube


New portraits at the Board of Estimates?

What’s up with all the old white guys enshrined in portraits in the chambers of the Board of Estimates, Baltimore’s powerful, 123-year-old spending board?

While Baltimore has had white, male leadership for the bulk of its three-century history, Black leaders of this millennium remain unrepresented in the Board of Estimates’ gallery of former mayors. The five-member panel controlled by Mayor Brandon Scott is today composed entirely of Black officials: the city’s three citywide electeds and two of the mayor’s appointees.

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At the end of a spending board meeting this Wednesday, Scott and Comptroller Bill Henry each teased new artwork that could better represent the city’s recent leadership, in particular the Black women who have served as mayor.

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates meets inside City Hall on 10/5/22.
The Baltimore City Board of Estimates meets inside City Hall on 10/5/22. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Henry recounted that the week before his office had hosted the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women on an educational visit to City Hall that culminated in a mock meeting of the Board of Estimates, with each board member getting a stand-in from the young students. (The student who occupied City Council President Nick Mosby’s seat particularly enjoyed lobbying her fellow board members to reject a group requesting approval for a trip to Disneyland, Henry said).

“When that group of young African American women were sitting here in these chambers, contemplating the leadership of the city,” the comptroller said, “they saw no one who looked like them in the frames around this room.”

This was an especially poignant moment, Henry continued, because for most of these students’ lives, the mayor of Baltimore was a Black woman — “and yet there are none in the frames around us.”

Baltimore’s last five mayors dating back to 2007 have been Black, and three of them have been women: Sheila Dixon, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Catherine Pugh.

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Two Black mayors from the 20th Century are depicted in portraits in the board chambers: Clarence Burns, who was appointed mayor in 1987 but lost election to a full term to Kurt Schmoke, the city’s first elected Black mayor.

The last mayor to have his portrait hung in the board chambers was Martin O’Malley, who served from 1999 to 2007 before being elected to the governor’s office.

Scott, sitting two seats away from Henry, assured his colleague that this was not the first time he’d thought about the absence of Black women in the gallery.

“As always with Mervo and Loyola,” he said, referencing their high schools, “I’m a couple steps ahead of you.”


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