BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen appeared in West Baltimore on Friday to tout $1.5 million in federal funding for three community projects, including plans to turn the former segregated school U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall attended as a child into a community hub and legal center.
The effort to restore P.S. 103, also known as the Henry Highland Garnet School, has received $1 million. Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway Sr. said the funding would allow organizers to break ground on July 2, Marshall's birthday.
Once completed, the renovated school building will be home to the University of Maryland's Justice Thurgood Marshall Center at P.S. 103, offering research, legal advocacy, intervention programming, and ethics training, according to the school.
The Bethel Empowerment and Wellness Center, a hub connecting residents to service providers, received $251,000, and a project to develop a vacant building in Sandtown-Winchester into a new community center was awarded $250,000.
"After the Freddie Gray episode, I was in Sandtown, we talked about what we needed to do in order to strengthen our community," said Cardin. "And what I heard over and over again, is that we need to build more community facilities. We need the community infrastructure to support our neighborhoods."
Van Hollen observed the project at Marshall's school comes as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination for the highest court in the land moves through the Senate. If confirmed, she would become the first Black woman to serve as a justice.
There'll be lots of opportunities to remember the great work that Justice Thurgood Marshall did and bring that into the present and into the future as we go forward.
"I think it's fitting that we're gathered here for this presentation the week before Senator Cardin and I look forward to voting on the historic confirmation of Judge Jackson to be common Justice Jackson," he said. "And so you can see how that arc does bend toward justice, and we need to keep pulling it harder and faster, and we do it together."
Community members told WJZ that they were happy about the investments being made in their community
"It's about time. It's about time. These communities have been disinvested for decades," said Jules Dunham Howie, a West Baltimore resident.
Faith and political leaders say that by bringing people resources to help them get jobs, get healthy and get legal help, it can help the community be more successful
"What we want people to know is that even though it might be blighted today it's going to be beautiful tomorrow," said Howie.
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