The City of Annapolis, in partnership with Maryland Hall, will be launching a speaker series, “Reimagining City Dock.” The first speaker on May 20 will be former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who will discuss “Visionary Leadership, Transformation and Resilience.” The event is free, but tickets, through the Maryland Hall website, are required.
Riley was the mayor of Charleston for 40 years. He served 10 terms, from 1975 to 2016. Under his leadership, Charleston went from a decaying urban center in the 1970s and 80s into a top cultural destination by the time he left office in 2016.
King Street, the main street in downtown Charleston, was once a no man’s land. Now it is one of the ten best shopping streets in America, alongside New York’s Fifth Avenue, Chicago’s Michigan Avenue and Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive.
But Riley’s vision wasn’t just about growing the retail and business sector. He pushed the city into a new way of thinking about race. Determined to be a bridge builder, he included African Americans in his City administration for the first time in the City’s history.
During his tenure, Riley was also faced with external stressors that would challenge any municipality including Hurricane Hugo in 1989, which wrought destruction on the city he was trying to rebuild. In June of 2015, Riley had to deal with the aftermath of a mass shooting in his community when a gunman opened fire in the Emanuel AME Church.
Mayor Gavin Buckley expressed his excitement about the series and the first speaker on the list.
“I think that Joe will have important things to share with Annapolis,” he said. “We can learn a lot from his leadership.”
The free talk will begin at 7 p.m. A special reception ($50) will be held from 6 to 7 p.m.
This series is being co-sponsored by Severn Savings Bank, Historic Annapolis, Katcef Brothers and the Downtown Annapolis Partnership.