African American Studies, Baltimore Press

Who is Keith Wallace?

Twenty years before George Floyd and Freddie Gray, a young journalist in Baltimore was standing up against police violence and discrimination.

His name was everywhere in the early years of the 1990s. His articles about innocent women dying in police custody were powerful and changed the city of Baltimore for the better. He brought justice to the most vulnerable by just writing the truth.

Then Mr. Keith Wallace disappeared.

The Beginning

My mother remembered his writing and kept many clippings from the newspaper. There were a lot of rumors about what happened to him. According to my mom, the two main conspiracy theories at fell on two categories. The first was that he was murdered by the police and the second was that he had been poached by a national media outfit.

His articles for the Baltimore Press were in the hundreds. Of what we have digitized so far, he broke stories on police corruption, government violence against women, racism within the media, media bias, and corrupt city officials.

We only have about 100 of his articles, which is only a tiny fraction of his work, and barely reflect how his original reporting at the Baltimore Press changed the city for the better.

Back then, calling truth to power could get you in big trouble. Bigger than these days. Keith was fearless, he kept at it like he was on a mission.

Wendall Lewis

When I started this blog, I digitized all the clippings my Mom had from the Press in the hopes that I could attract some attention to this moment in Baltimore’s publishing history, as well as an important moment in Black history.

The goal was always to find the people who stood between black bodies and the police. In particular, Mr. Wallace. Sadly The Baltimore Press went bankrupt a few years after he went missing from their pages, so the available available information is spotty.

What We Believe To Be True

Little is known about his personal life, but I have collected enough information to share with you, in hopes of finding Keith Wallace.

Keith lived in Baltimore through much of the late 80s and early 90s. He earned his degree somewhere in Massachusetts, and had worked as a fry cook before getting his start at the Press. He seems to have lived in upper fells point at an Artists colony for several years.

Then he seems to have simply vanished. He apparently owned the apartment he lived in, because the newspaper took over the space for a long time. I am not sure if that was with his permission.

The consensus is that Mr. Wallace is in his 50s now, he probably stayed in journalism, although it’s possible that he went back to working in restaurants. Preliminary searches using Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn have not been successful in locating him.

What May (or May Not) Be True

Since starting this blog years ago, readers have sent a steady stream of information. Much of it has corroborated other people’s recollection, which we included above.

The one piece of information that continues to be elusive is the one that I personally thought wasn’t up for debate: was Keith Wallace, a respectable journalist at a historically Black newspaper, actually Black?

He was a messy white boy with a low cut.

Auntie Audrey

I received a surprising number of comments like this. Some said he was white-passing or possibly Spanish. Some said it looked like he bleached his skin, or had vitiligo.

Personally, I can’t imagine why a white boy would be working in Baltimore for a Black newspaper, or live in a very Black neighborhood. He would spend his days without ever seeing another white person. That doesn’t track, but Baltimore always surprises me, and Keith is an important part of it’s history.

Keith, are you out there?

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