By Khira Moore,
AFRO Intern

August 1 marked the return of National Night Out (NNO), with officials and residents taking part in events across Baltimore and surrounding counties. Mayor Brandon Scott toured eight organizations from east to west to show support for his communities. 

At 11 a.m. Scott kicked off NNO at the Oliver Senior Center, located at 1700 N Gay St. 

“Today is about coming together as a city and doing something that we all know needs to happen. While we’re very pleased and excited that Baltimore has a 25 percent reduction in homicide, we want to see 25 percent more,” said Scott. “All of us should be coming together as a community. We all build that system of safety, but also that pride that we once had in our community.” 

Scott adorned a shirt that said, “From Baltimore, With Love” and immersed himself in activities with residents. He won —on a technicality-– a game of pool against a local citizen, and watched The Price is Right with a few nice senior citizens. Scott was welcoming and assuring, taking the time out to listen to anybody who had a question.

President Board of Directors of the Forest Park Senior Center Joseph Ashton was joined on NNO by his wife Tessa Hill-Aston, former president of the Baltimore branch of  NAACP. She spoke about the work Scott has been doing.

“He has not turned his back on Forest Park,” said Miss Hill-Aston, speaking about Mayor Scott. “When I call him, when Joseph calls him, he doesn’t send anybody– he talks to us himself. He’s got our back and he’s got your back.” 

Scott was joined during NNO by City Council President Nick Mosby, who brought along his two young daughters, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates and Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley, who will be officially sworn into office on Aug. 15. 

“I grew up in Pigtown, South Baltimore,” said Worley to those gathered at the Oliver Senior Center. “There were a bunch of community ladies who took care of me and smacked me upside the head when I did something wrong. [They] helped raise me when my parents were working…there were a lot of ladies and men like you who came and helped put me on the right path to get to where I am today.”

In the lobby, stands promoted community events and resources for residents. Sage Health, a senior citizen health care company, also offered pamphlets and information on local support available.

S. Monique was also present to sign copies of her novel, I Am The Ancestor, a book about her journey from being abducted at the age of two and her perilous search for an identity.

The center put on a dance show with classic R&B music blasting from the speakers. Seniors, officers, and city officials danced together in a show of unity. It was a joyous celebration of community and respect among officials and the citizens of Baltimore. 

After visiting the Oliver Community Center and the Zeta Center for Healthy and Active Aging, the mayor made his way to the Forest Park Senior Center on 4805 Liberty Heights Ave. In a room, a little smaller than a gymnasium were about thirty round tables filled with people eating and laughing. There were stands lining the room selling merchandise and Baltimore-themed items. 

Other sites included the Delta Community Center, operated by the Baltimore Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in Park Heights. No Boundaries Coalition, the Lakeland Community Association Partnership and the Belair-Edison, Cedonia, Friends of Herring Run Park, Lauraville and Waltherson Associations all held events meant to take back the night for law-abiding citizens. The Frankford Improvement Association also partnered with the Baltimore City School Police to host an event in East Baltimore. 

Officials spoke powerful words to uplift community spirits and celebrate the day. 

“In order for us to continue to battle some issues in our community and move our city in the right trajectory, it’s going to take all of us,” said Mosby. “Individually we can do things, but collectively we can forever change the trajectory of our community.”