Many of you have expressed an interest in exploring the Freddie Gray Trials and lending your voices to the Black Lives Matter movement's call for criminal justice reform in America. To get you up to speed, please read the articles below about Deray Mckesson, a national leader of the group who just announced that he is running for Mayor of Baltimore.
Room for Debate: Can Activists Be Politicians? NY Times 2-9-16
Black Lives Matter Activist Jumps Into Baltimore Mayoral Fray NY Times 2-3-16
Emboldened by Protests, Black Lives Matter Activists Move From Street to Ballot NY Times 2-6-16
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Black America and the Class Divide NY Times 2-1-16
Backgrounds to the situation in West Baltimore today:
An Overview of Sandtown-Winchester, Freddy Gray's home. (NY Times A Portrait of the Sandtown Neighborhood in Baltimore 5-3-15)
This video made last summer by Sandtown teens:
Baltimore and Beyond Teens Speak Out About Living in West Baltimore Brookings Creative Lab 7-20-15
Raw Footage of the Rioting That Took Place on April 27 2015 in West Baltimore:
This interactive map explores segregation in Baltimore.
Ta-Nehesi Coates is a writer who grew up in West Baltimore, went to college at Howard University, and now works for The Atlantic magazine. He wrote his memoir Between the World and Me about growing up black in West Baltimore in the form of a letter to his sixteen year old son. It won the National Book Award and now stands atop the New York Times Bestseller list. Coates also won a MacArthur Grant "genius award" in 2015.
Coates burst into the national conversation on race with a brilliant article in The Atlantic which made the case for reparations of all African-Americans to rectify a history of injustice against African-Americans. In this article Coates describes the ways that local and national legal policies exploited blacks throughout the 20th century and helped produce the economic conditions which have led to concentrated poverty in cities like Baltimore.
Ta-Nehesi Coates, The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality (VIDEO) The Atlantic 9-14-15
8 Minutes of Coates's describing what it was like to walk to school in his West Baltimore neighborhood while he was growing up. Start at 11:00 and go to 19:08. Aspen New Ideas Institute 6-30-15
Two chapters from "The Case for Reparations": which focus on the history of housing practices which led many Americans to build wealth by owning homes in the suburbs while African-Americans were systematically denied the same benefits. Ta-Nehisi Coates II. “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree” VI. "Making The Second Ghetto" The Atlantic 6-1-14
Please listen to:
Ta-Nehisi Coates On Police Brutality, The Confederate Flag And Forgiveness NPR Podcast JULY 13, 2015
Optional: The Hard Truths of Ta-Nehisi Coates After the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. and the hopes of Barack Obama. New York Magazine 7-12-15
See also Ta-Nehesi Coates, The Atlantic 9-14-15; The Clock Didn't Start With the Riots The Atlantic 4-30-15
(20 minutes from JHU Forum on Race in America. Please watch Coates' opening speech: start 10 minutes in and watch until the end of his speech. This forum on race was presented at Johns Hopkins University in April 2015, three days after the rioting throughout Baltimore had reached its crescendo. 4-30-15
David Simon is the writer of the books and television programs, Homicide: Life on the Street (1991), which ran on network television from 1993 to 1999, and The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner City Neighborhood (1997) which was made into an HBO film The Corner in 2000. He was the writer/producer of the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire which ran from 2002-2008. The Wire has been called by several critics the greatest television program ever made. Currently, Simon is the writer/producer for a new HBO project Show Me a Hero which began airing in August 2015.
Simon began his career as a reporter on the crime beat for The Baltimore Sun. This interview recounts experiences he had reporting from the streets of West Baltimore during the War on Drugs, observing the "Broken Windows" policing strategy used by the Baltimore City police.
Alice Goffman is a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin. She wrote On the Run (2014), a prize winning study of the relationship between police and African-American young men in a rough neighborhood of Philadelphia from 2010-12.
Alice Goffman, Why Are We Priming Some Kids for College-- and Others for Prison? TED Talk March 2015 (VIDEO) (See also Alice Goffman, This Fugitive Life NYTimes Opinionator 5-11-14 (NPR Podcast)
Michelle Alexander is a civil rights lawyer and recent professor at Stanford University who is the author of The New Jim Crow (2011), an excoriating expose of the mass incarceration of African-Americans during the Drug War.
Michelle Alexander,The New Jim Crow, at TEDxColumbus 10-16-13 (VIDEO)
Olufemi O. Taiwo:
And please watch this short video:
"Race and the Carceral State" Olufemi O. Taiwo Graduate Student Philosophy University of California, Los Angeles
Mass Incarceration Visualized
More than one Baltimore mayoral candidate has recognized that the time has come to remedy urban blight in Baltimore. Baltimore once had a population of over a million. Its population now stands at 600,000. Abandoned houses litter the landscape, damaging quality of life, depressing housing values, and holding back development. Governor Hogan has promised over 600 million dollars in state funds to demolish abandoned housing. As many as 10 thousand jobs may be created to carry out this project, and new homeowners will be able to purchase lots for as little as a dollar.
But what kind of houses can new homowners afford to build?
Alejandro Aravena, a Chilean architect famous for urban social architecture, won the 2016 Pritzker Prize in part for his design of "Half Houses". In the following video Aravena describes how urban design can encourage homeowners to invest their own time, labor and savings to improve the quality of their homes and so invigorate a whole neighborhood.
Emily Badger, The long, painful and repetitive history of how Baltimore became Baltimore Washington Post 4-29-15
William McGurn, Baltimore Is Not About Race: Government- induced dependency is the problem-- and it’s one with a long history. WSJ 5-6-15