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Activist Wants Read’s To Stay A Historic Landmark

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Reads Drug Store
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After much debate and discussion by city leaders, one Baltimore building is now a historic landmark. The designation is temporary, though.

Gigi Barnett explains some activists want it to stay on the city’s historic list permanently.

Abandoned and vacant for years, the old Read’s Drug Store is the site of a 1955 lunch counter sit-in.

This past week Baltimore City’s Preservation Board granted the building a six-month landmark designation.

The vote stalled a multi-million dollar construction project designed to revitalize the area near Lexington and Howard Streets known as the “Superblock.”

That means Read’s is safe for now.

“Now the next step would be to make it permanent,” said a spokesperson for Read’s.

That’s what Civil Rights activist Dr. Helena Hicks wants.

She was part of the group of Morgan State college students who planned the sit-in more than five decades ago and years before the start of the Civil Rights movement. She says a planned demolition of Read’s could mean a loss for Baltimore’s history.

“If you go any place in the world, you go and look at its history,” said Hicks.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says keeping the past and building the future can happen at the same time.

“I have opened the door with the commissioners and the preservationists to sit down at the table and try to develop a monument or experience that would tell the story of the protesters and Baltimore’s place in Civil Rights history,” said Rawlings-Blake.

In the preservation plan, developers have agreed to keep two walls standing of the store. Activists say that is not enough.

The 1955 Read’s sit-in happened five years before the famous lunch counter protest at Woolworth’s store in Greensboro,N.C.

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