The Afro-American Newspapers kicked off a new year of its Clean/Green Block Campaign during an event at its Baltimore headquarters on the morning of April 27.

Joined by community organizations, church leaders and elected officials, the newspaper announced the 2017 edition of the nation’s oldest environmental program.

Communities are invited to participate by selecting at least four blocks to represent their neighborhood with cleanup efforts to commence on May 4. All neighborhoods, businesses, city and state agencies are eligible to participate. Final judging will take place later this summer, with prizes for the cleanest, greenest blocks to be announced.

The theme for this year has remained the same, “AFRO Clean/Green Block Campaign – Our Community – Our Responsibility.”

The AFRO Clean Block program began in 1934 as a way to beautify Baltimore and ran continuously for several decades. Writing in 1968 about the kickoff of the 34th season of Clean Block, the paper noted that “The AFRO sponsors the campaign in the hopes that Clean Blockers will learn the value of respect for property, for one another and for the community.” Frances L. Murphy I, daughter of AFRO founder John H. Murphy Sr., created and ran the project.

Under the leadership of Diane Hocker, the newspaper’s director of community and public relations, the Clean/Green Block Campaign hopes to expand to more neighborhoods across the city and create a more beautiful Baltimore.

“We are excited to be able to continue the longest environmental program in the country and indeed that is what AFRO Clean Block is,” she said. “When you go back into the archives, and I invite everyone to do that, you will see over the decades the expansive reach of this particular program and how it has evolved and helped Baltimore City’s inner city neighborhoods evolve.”

“I could tell you lots of stories about the excitement but also the absolute sheer fun that we had when we were running around the blocks and dropping off the tools to make sure that everyone was able to clean up everything,” she said.

“The judging was a particular thrill,” said Jake Oliver, AFRO CEO and publisher.

To sign-up your community, business, agency or organization, contact Diane W. Hocker at 410-554-8200 or by email at

To view the press conference click here: