Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times, was recently immortalized in wax for her 30-plus years of providing a Black media outlet.
Bramble was honored with a proclamation from the Maryland House and Senate before the unveiling of a wax figure in her name at the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore.
“I was surprised and honored,” Bramble said of the proclamation and unveiling. “The reason is what we’ve been able to accomplish with The Baltimore Times.”
As their first employee in 1986, I was a witness and full participant in those accomplishments. Bramble started The Baltimore Times with the blessing and help from her husband Rev. Peter Bramble, an Episcopal priest. I was straight out of college as a telecommunications major working at WEBB Radio as a paid intern when I was hired by Joy Bramble.
The Baltimore Times, when it changed from a monthly publication to a weekly, became the largest-circulated Black-owned newspaper in Maryland. It grew to have three sister publications — The Annapolis Times, The Prince George’s County Times and The Baltimore County Times. It was the first company to offer community events in Baltimore that provided free services with its Housing Expo (onsite pre-approvals), Health Expo (free health care screenings), Men’s Expo (free health care screenings) and Women’s Expo (free seminars).
“My whole life has been like magic,” said Bramble, a native of Montserrat. “I’ve never been afraid to try things. If that doesn’t work you move on. Set an example and keep trying.”
But Bramble didn’t start off in the states as a newspaper publisher. She began as an educator in the Baltimore City school system and even owned a lucrative corner store before deciding she wanted to saturate the city with “positive stories about positive people,” the motto for her newspaper.
“Someone broke into the store and I was afraid and decided to close it,” she said about her corner store venture.
As far as her role as a teacher, she said, “I feel if I am not making a difference I have to do something else. I found out how hard it was teaching in Baltimore schools. I knew that I wasn’t fulfilling my potential and that was not for me.”
Bringing “positive stories about positive people” and providing free community services to Baltimore city residents to help save lives and people’s homes was where she was able to fulfill her potential.
“Taking chances and learning,” Bramble told me of how she grew her newspaper. “And the people I’ve come in contact with. I made a difference in their lives, set an example. Look at you! You are a prime example.”
Bramble is talking about all the achievements I have made with her blessing and because of her urging. I came to The Baltimore Times because I love writing, but she saw that I could make a great salesperson. So we made a deal: she would let me write for the newspaper if I sold ads for her. She was right — I became the highest-paid salesperson at the newspaper.
My love for writing resulted in a position as entertainment editor at the newspaper. I am now a syndicated entertainment columnist with over 1/4 million readers a week nationwide. At one point as her business manager, she urged me in the strongest way to be her promotions director and because of it, I helped spearhead The Baltimore Times community event projects. The events garnered the newspaper recognition from the city for serving the community with events held annually. Each of the four events raked up thousands of dollars in extra venue for the newspaper.
Bramble allowed me to learn all these skills on the job by not limiting me and by urging me. I was able to open up my own business, a public relations/business service company. She did not mind me moonlighting after work as long as I did my job at the newspaper. I founded “Uplifting Minds,” a free entertainment conference event for the newspaper, in 1999 to reach young readers — the fifth event.
In 2000, Bramble granted my request for ownership of the event and as “Uplifting Minds II” I took the free entertainment conference annually to communities in Baltimore, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston. I am only one of many employees Joy Bramble has helped in this way.
“Life is a challenge — I like challenges,” she said. “Someone tells me I can’t do something — I find a way. The statue will be unveiled at the State House. I’m getting a proclamation from the Senate and the House and the statue will be unveiled afterward at The Great Blacks in Wax.”
Moseley’s The Pulse of Entertainment column has an estimated weekly readership of over 250,000.