The Chatter

One-Hundred Black Men in Baltimore Offer Their “Take on America” Tonight

First episode in a new OZY Media Town Hall series focused on race in the U.S. airs this evening.

By Ron Cassie | October 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

The Chatter

One-Hundred Black Men in Baltimore Offer Their “Take on America” Tonight

First episode in a new OZY Media Town Hall series focused on race in the U.S. airs this evening.

By Ron Cassie | October 18, 2018, 2:34 pm


A town hall featuring 100 black men in Baltimore, some prominent and familiar—others less often heard, but no less compelling and thoughtful—discuss everything from President Donald Trump and Colin Kaepernick to fatherhood, police reform, and the challenges facing black boys in the first episode of new series Take on America, airing tonight from OZY Media.

“Black Men in Baltimore,” hosted by award-winning journalist and OZY Media co-founder Carlos Watson and including Jemele Hill, formerly of ESPN and now of The Atlantic, is the first of four televised town halls that “take on America” through the lens of race.

Upcoming episodes include “White Women in Nashville” (airing October 25), “Latino Families in New York City” (airing November 1), and “Asian-American Millennials in San Francisco” (airing November 8). The series—which debuts tonight at 8 p.m. on YouTube,, and a variety of PBS stations around the country—aims to generate dialogue that can help Americans understand each other better, and foster “greater insight and understanding at a critical time.”

Among the panelists in the Baltimore episode, filmed earlier this month at the War Memorial building, are Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Towson University professor Tony Campbell, Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, The Wire actor Lawrence Gillard Jr., journalist and author D. Watkins and T.J. Smith, who recently resigned from the Baltimore Police Department after expressing his frustration with the struggling department.

It also features a good number of men most Baltimoreans likely don’t know—local business leaders, nonprofit directors, scholars, organizers, artists, and barbers among them—who care no less deeply about their state of their city and country.

The debut episode features candid, and at times emotional, conversations around the ongoing challenges facing black men in the U.S. today as well as revealing personal stories. Smith, for example, admits that even as a police officer he’s been the target of racial profiling and wrongfully stopped while driving and shopping.

The most moving segments of the episode, not surprisingly, come when the men talk about the obstacles their own fathers and mothers encountered in raising them and the twin trauma of poverty and violence all too common today in many Baltimore neighborhoods.

Politics and pressing issues, such as the continued War on Drugs, mandatory minimum sentencing, and voter suppression efforts—all of which disproportionately affect minority communities—are never far from the discussion, however. Nor are wide-ranging opinions on the best way forward.

With racial tensions running high in the era of President Trump and the run up to the mid-term elections, the aim of the town hall, and the series, according to OZY Media, “is to see how, in today's incredibly tense political climate, we're actually more alike than different in our strive for progress, and for outsiders to get an inside look at the conversations these minority groups are really having.”

“I feel passionately that we are at pivotal moment in our nation's history,” said Watson, the series host in a statement. “We are living in one of the most racially charged eras since the Civil Rights movement, and the world is both more connected technologically, and disconnected interpersonally, than it's ever-been before. We hope that we will create a forum for substantive dialogue and ultimately inform and inspire action.”

Meet The Author

Ron Cassie is a senior editor for Baltimore, where he covers the environment, education, medicine, politics, and city life.

You May Also Like

Health & Wellness

All in a Day With Ellen Frost

We follow a day in the life of the Local Color Flowers owner.

The Chatter

Columbus Statue Toppled, Thrown Into Inner Harbor

Statue near Little Italy becomes latest monument in the U.S. to fall.

The Chatter

How to Celebrate Juneteenth While Social Distancing

Local museums, businesses, and community institutions are offering plenty of ways to celebrate safely.

News & Community

A World of Difference

What will the “new normal” look like in the COVID-19 era?

The Chatter

Baltimore Safe Haven Organizes Black Trans Lives Matter Mural in Charles Village

Art represents local efforts to include Black trans community in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Arts & Culture

New Book Explores the Rise and Fall of America's Most Corrupt Police Force

Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg discuss 'I Got a Monster.'

Connect With Us

Most Read

Design for Distancing Competition Aims to Revive The Beauty of Public Spaces: Forward-thinking social-distancing structures could be built in the city as early as this month.

The Womanist Reader Creates an Online Library of Black Literature: A Baltimore writer curates an evolving list of women writers for her women followers.

Boxer Yahu Blackwell Is An All-Everything Businessman: The 33-year-old Baltimore native is the owner of the new Rita’s Italian Ice in Hampden.

How These Surprise Quarantine ‘Flower Bombs’ Are Helping Families in Need: The paper-plate flowers have become a massive fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House.

Amid The Economic Chaos, Downtown Partnership’s New President Has a Plan: Shelonda Stokes was just named president after serving in an interim leadership role.