An Agent of Change: A Letter from Our Board Chair

June 30, 2020

Dear Friends of Pride,

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 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 crew member that it was a cool pirate ship, he corrected me, that it was a privateer, which he explained was like a legal pirate ship. It turns out that this particular crew member was the captain, and he gave me a tour of the ship. He told me the story of Chasseur, a Baltimore Clipper from the War of 1812, which was the inspiration for the design of both Pride and Pride II. That captain could not have known that 30 years later, that 8-year-old kid would become the first black chair of the board of directors of Pride. 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 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 of Pride, Inc., which manages the ship built as Maryland’s goodwill ambassador and a symbol of hope, investment, history, and tourism, I knew I must be more than just a symbol of change. I was called upon to be an agent of change. When I became chair in 2018, Pride was in turmoil, having missed the sailing season for the first time ever due to a lack of funding. People told me that everyone would understand if we could not lead Pride back to success because it had been mired in difficulty before my arrival and some had lost hope in it. But they didn’t understand that as a black man, since I was a child, I have always known that my failures are amplified in our society. I couldn’t fail. Nor did our board believe the best days of Pride were behind it.

Our first action was to grow the board because, while we were dealing with our financial troubles, we lost focus on our diversity. We added women, minorities, young people, and new accomplished leaders of different backgrounds and experience. We prioritized connecting the organization back to the myriad communities it serves in Baltimore and across the state. In that vein, we received a Baltimore National Heritage Area grant to get underrepresented communities out on the water for free ($10,000 awarded for 2020 and that program will now take place in 2021). This year, we would have launched an education program to tell the history of the privateer industry, both the good and the bad, and get more kids within the Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County Public Schools systems aboard. I am proud that we pulled off such a historic turnaround and ended the 2019 sailing season with money to invest in expanding our outreach in 2020. While COVID-19 ended many of our initiatives for this year, it has not and will not deter the energy and progress of Pride of Baltimore, Inc., the organization.

So, how do we make Pride of Baltimore II an agent of change? For starters, we plan to work proactively on helping the broader tall ships community acknowledge that many in the black community see it as an industry/sport for whites and not everyone else. Even though my personal experiences have helped me feel that this assumption isn’t true, not all experiences are the same and our actions to be more inclusive speak louder than our words.

I will be asking our board to prioritize finding additional ways to make Pride of Baltimore II an agent of change. This will not be doled out to a committee. It will be addressed thoughtfully by the full board of directors with all of our committees working in concert toward that common goal. We will look to ensure more opportunities for diversity in hiring of crew, staff, vendors, and consultants. We will find more funding for programs that facilitate access for minority communities so that they, too, feel welcomed in the harbors we visit and aboard Pride of Baltimore II. And we will work tirelessly to raise more money to educate communities about job opportunities in sailing and port communities. I will also ask the board to direct our staff to focus more of our grant writing to fund programs that will support underserved communities’ access to our education programs for free. The board, staff, and crew will undertake continual diversity, inclusion, and bias training to ensure that we improve the culture of our organization now and going forward. We will then take our action plan to the entire tall ship community and be an agent of change there, too.

There is a lot of listening, planning, and action to be done over the next few months for Pride to return in 2021, not stronger just for our home city and state, but as a thought and cultural leader for systemic change. Silence is not an option, and listening without action is unacceptable.

If we are truly committed, we need each and every one of you as friends of Pride to support the board, staff, and crew. We want your time, stories, input, and donations to help put these plans into action. I will be joining Captain Miles for a “Coffee with the Captain” in the near future. I welcome your thoughtful attendance and questions.

Fairer winds,

Jay

Jayson T. Williams
Chair of the Board of Directors
Pride of Baltimore. Inc.

Guest Crew Opportunities!

Calling all adventurers! Guest crew berths are still available on the following legs:

Baltimore, MD to Norfolk, VA, June 6-9
Norfolk, VA to Toronto, ON, Canada, June 12-30
Fairport Harbor, OH to Bay City, MI, July 10-14
Bay City, MI to Boyne City, MI, July 17-23

More information about each leg can be found on our website:https://www.pride2.org/come-aboard/guest-crew-opportunities/

As guest crew, you will work alongside PRIDE’s professional crew as an integral part of all aspects of life aboard the ship. Stand watch, steer the vessel, help with ship’s maintenance, and much more. It is truly an experience you will never forget!

Reservations for each passage are first come, first served, based on date of receipt of completed forms. Apply today!

https://www.pride2.org/…/guest-crew-opportuniti…/application/

 

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30th Pride of Baltimore Memorial Ceremony

On Saturday, May 14, with the sun high in the sky, Pride II welcomed over 150 guests to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine for a memorial ceremony honoring the 30th Anniversary of the sinking of Pride of Baltimore. Guests came to pay their respects to a ship they remember, and still hold close to their hearts.

The event began with a beautiful rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” performed by members of the Maryland Choral Society. Guests were then treated to remarks by notable speakers that included Captain Jan Miles, the Honorable Helen Delich Bentley, Barbara Bozzuto, Dan Baker, Pride II Executive Director Rick Scott, and surviving members of the lost ship.

Jonathan Jensen, of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, was joined by two additional singers. Together, they performed the “Pride of Baltimore Ballad,” a powerful song that tells the story of the first vessel. Close to the end of the ceremony, condolences letters were read aloud. These letters were sent to Pride Inc. offices during the months following the sinking. Folks from all over the globe sent their sincerest regrets at the loss, a reminder of the many lives the ship touched. Select members of crew and staff of Pride II, all who weren’t even born when the first vessel sank, were chosen to read the letters.

When the event drew to a close, guests were invited to make their way down to the seawall, where Pride II was docked. The Maryland Choral Society performed a trio of songs that included “The Water is Wide,” “Navy Hymn,” and “America, The Beautiful.” While they sang, a wreath was brought onto Pride II and then rowed out onto the water by both surviving crew members and current Pride II crew. The wreath was dropped onto the water’s surface in a display of remembrance, a Baltimore City Fireboat and tugboat joined the ceremony by spraying water high into the sky as a tribute to the lost crew members, and Pride II fired her canons three times in memory of Pride of Baltimore.

As morning met its end, the singers finished their songs, the audience offered a final salute, and guests were invited to come aboard Pride II for deck tours. There, old friends reunited, sharing stories of the past, and new connections were made.

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Educating the Next Generation

 

Over the past two weeks, captains and crew of Pride of Baltimore II joined with rangers at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine to teach students about the War of 1812 and the role of Privateers. Students from across Baltimore City schools came aboard to immerse themselves in maritime technology, the ins and outs of the ship, and navigating the Chesapeake Bay. For some students, this was their first time on a boat! With lessons in both American history and Maryland history, it was a thrill for our crew to meet these students and create a one-of-a-kind learning experience for them.

The education program is part of a new partnership between Pride and the National Park Service Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, a 560-mile land and water route that tells the story of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake Bay region. It connects historic sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, and commemorates the events leading up to the Battle of Baltimore, the aftermath of which inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem. This partnership introduces hundreds of students to Maryland’s unique history and is an incredible opportunity to educate the next generation about the history of our great state and its role in shaping a young nation. We hope that this partnership will inspire young minds, instilling pride in their state and pride in their country.

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All-American House

We are pleased to be partnering with one of our fellow institutions, Carroll Museums, on their upcoming All American House 2016 at Carroll Mansion. This national exhibition of American design and manufacturing, secured from the DC-based nonprofit MADE: In America, will run through July 10, 2016. To extend the exhibition’s reach citywide, Carroll Museums invited Pride of Baltimore and other institutions to be Baltimore’s American Treasures Affiliates and cross-promote with our own programs, events, and shot-towerexhibitions. More than a dozen affiliates are helping to showcase Baltimore’s role, past, present, and future, in shaping America’s design aesthetic and innovation in manufacturing.

Pride of Baltimore II is certainly one of Baltimore’s American treasures, a maritime treasure. She is a reconstruction of an early 19th-century Baltimore Clipper, a ship design developed in, for, and unique to the Chesapeake Bay area.

A combination of geography, settlement patterns, and even weather spawned the design of the Baltimore Clipper. The Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, stretches 200 miles, but is surprisingly shallow. Its average depth is about 21 feet, although there are deep troughs — believed to be remnants of the ancient path of the Susquehanna River — running much of the Bay’s length. The Chesapeake Bay also has about 24 navigable tributaries, meaning that navigating between towns, when water transportation was the easiest form of transport, entailed navigating long, narrow, and shallow rivers. As for weather, winds on the Bay are often very light in the summer. Over time, Chesapeake Bay shipbuilders combined different facets of design to build ships best suited to the local sailing conditions. Baltimore Clippers were one of those designs.

Baltimore Clippers were topsail schooners, sharp built (meaning they had a V-shaped hull) with strongly raked stem and stern posts and masts. These design factors, along with others, created sleek, fast, and maneuverable vessels. They could sail closer to the wind than all of their contemporaries and faster than most of them. It’s no surprise then that Baltimore Clippers gained fame as privateers during the War of 1812 – they could outmaneuver and sail faster than the British ships. Their success in capturing British merchant ships provoked the Royal Navy to attack Baltimore in 1814.

So, come aboard for a deck tour during the month of May and our knowledgeable captains and crew can tell you more about the history behind the design of Pride II and the Baltimore Clippers of yore that inspired her construction.

Support Pride II on #GivingTuesday!

GIVINGTUESDAY Facebook

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world are uniting together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

 

Throughout the course of each year, Pride, Inc. strives to promote historical maritime education, foster economic development and tourism, and represent the people of Maryland in every port she visits.

 

Pride Inc. relies primarily on individual philanthropy, grants, corporate sponsorships, and membership to bridge the gap in funding each year. A gift on #GivingTuesday will directly support Pride’s educational programming, sailing opportunities, and ship operations in 2016. Click on the Donate button below to show your support. We thank you sincerely!

 

What is #GIVINGTUESDAY?

 

Donate $50 or more and receive a Pride of Baltimore II poster signed by one of our captains!