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Opinion
WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

RIP: Vernon Dobson and Homer Favor

In his last essay of 2013, WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith remembers Pastor Vernon Dobson and his good friend, Homer Favor. Both died this year.

They remembered the bad old days of segregation as they had lived them. Dobson recalled the forbidden places: “… the beautiful White Coffee Pot. You could go and order a cup of coffee but you had to stand outside and drink it. And the place was beautiful. It was immaculate for a boy, for a child, it was just a dream world.”

He and Favor, a political scientist at Morgan State University who never stopped challenging and speaking out against discrimination, played a key role in changing that world in Baltimore. Along with a dozen other men, Favor and Dobson began marching and speaking out against Jim Crow.  Just bunch of goons, it was said. So they called themselves the Goon Squad. 

They had counseled with Dr.  Martin Luther King. Jr. about the direction civil rights should take in the 1960s and beyond. Later, they helped organize a Washington-bound Baltimore contingent on the day of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Dobson fretted in those days and ever after, Favor said. Had he done enough? He seems never to have been satisfied with himself. He knew how much work remained to be done. He started a number of community support programs at his church. Child care, housing, employment, shelter and drug treatment for men were among them.

In an interview with me, Favor remembered meeting a young man as he and Dobson were walking through Lexington Market. “A big man, bigger than I am came up to us,” said the 6-7 Favor.  “He said I want to thank you Reverend. I’ve been clean for 5 years. Tears were streaming down the young man’s face.”

Rest in peace, Vernon Dobson and Homer Favor, men of grace and passion.

Your comments are invited at fsmith@wypr.org.