Independent Mayoral Candidate for Baltimore City. (Courtesy Photo)
By Linda G. Morris
When Carolyn Green left her East Baltimore home, bound for the University of Pennsylvania, little did she know she would meet fellow South Baltimorean Robert (Bob) Wallace. Bob is one of five boys born to Leon and Irene Curry Wallace. Carolyn, one of nine children born to Robert Hezekiah and Edith Hardy Green, says they bonded over a compelling need: transportation to and from Baltimore. Carolyn had a car! Over the course of their four years at U-Penn and on the road, they got to know and love each other’s clans. Eventually, they both earned degrees in mechanical engineering.
Carolyn’s dad, known as Kiah, came to Baltimore in 1947 after serving in the Navy in WWII. Moving from Turners Station, he went to the Apex Beauty and Barber School on Pennsylvania Avenue and started Green’s Barber Shop at the corner of Oliver and Rose Streets. There, he taught barbering to apprentice barbers and eventually purchased a building at Luzerne Avenue and Oliver Street. Over the years he trained dozens of barbers, many who still serve the Baltimore community today. His son, Herb Green still serves the original east Baltimore neighborhood.
When his customers could not come to him, he brought his barbering skills to them, whether at home, in a nursing home, or hospital. Carolyn said that she and her siblings helped out in the barber shop by bringing breakfast and lunch to their dad daily on their way to Fort Worthington Elementary School # 85, where all nine of the children attended. Carrying meals was the job of the girls, and the boys supported by sweeping the floors and cleaning the shop until they became old enough to learn to shine shoes and eventually to cut hair. The girls became teachers and care givers with only one, Cynthia, becoming a Master barber. She worked for many years at Harry’s Afro Hut. Carolyn says that one life lesson she took away from her work in the barber shop was that the customer is always right. Her dad’s motto was, “Nobody satisfies everyone, but we try.”
Mrs. Green was also busy as a teacher’s aide working with hearing impaired children, a cub scout leader and an active member of the Eastern Stars. Over the years she fostered over 50 special needs children. At 92 years of age today, she is still a valued community resource.
The concept of service also runs deep in Bob’s family. Bob has shared that his mother was a recovering alcoholic who, after conquering her addiction and raising her sons, went on to graduate from Coppin State and teach at Cherry Hill and Patapsco Elementary schools. Bob’s dad was a laborer and WWII Army veteran. Several of Bob’s brothers went into the military, but Mr. Wallace encouraged Bob to go to college.
His maternal grandfather, Elzie Curry, was a sleeping car porter who headed the Training School for B&O Porters which was begun in October 1945. This group was unionized by A. Philp Randolph and played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement in bringing equity to public accommodations. Bob’s cousin, the late Wayne Curry, was the County Executive for Prince George’s County from 1994 to 2002.
Bob says that living in Cherry Hill taught him that he did not want to be poor, but it also taught him the power of community. After a few years of working in corporate America for E. I. DuPont , Bob decided to go to the Amos Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College, and soon after graduating, he started BITHGROUP Technologies in 1993. Carolyn took a job with Procter and Gamble at the Locust Point factory where her experience in pleasing customers was recognized and rewarded. After nearly 15 years of making soap, she moved to Noxell and made cosmetics. Both Bob and Carolyn worked in technology fields while raising their growing family. In 2001, Carolyn joined Bob at BITHGROUP where he serves as chief executive officer, and she as chief administrative officer.
Bob and Carolyn have been married for 42 years and have five children, four boys and one girl, and eight grandchildren. The whole family is working in the campaign. Their son, Robert Jr.’s role is campaign chairperson. Joshua and Jordan who live out of state return home to canvas on weekends. Collin, a Gilman graduate, consults from San Francisco during weekly family calls, and daughter Taylor lives in the former family home and manages technology for the team.
If Carolyn becomes Baltimore’s first lady, she intends to focus her efforts on quality education for children and our future. She believes she can best serve the city by working with our babies to create the support systems that allow them to thrive. The family is embracing this unique opportunity to enhance their bond as they fulfill the family’s legacy of service.
These articles represent the opinion of the writers and not the AFRO. Tune in at 7 p.m., Oct. 22 to the Mayoral Forum on Facebook, jointly hosted by the NAACP, WBAL-TV and the AFRO, and read next week’s paper to see the AFRO’s endorsements.