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Race, place, and public housing in Baltimore

Baltimore Heritage’s Thursday lecture will use public housing as a point of entry for discussing race, segregation and history.

Above: The Murphy Homes being built on March 18, 1963. The Murphy Homes ont Franklin Street and Myrtle was the first public housing complex built specifically for older people in Baltimore.

This Thursday the Baltimore Heritage will host a lecture called, “Rethinking Urban History from the Margins.”

The specific topic?

The talk, given by Baltimore native Dr. Rhonda Williams, will focus on public housing as a point of entry for race, segregation and history in Baltimore.

“Public housing is an important part of the story and history of how people have engaged in race and housing in Baltimore,” Baltimore Heritage Field Officer Eli Pousson told the Brew in a phone call.

Dr. Williams, author of The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women’s Struggles Against Urban Inequality, will share the stories and “life experiences” of black female community activists who fought to protect the rights of their friends, families and neighbors while living in the city’s public housing.

“Dr. Williams is a really good person to help open up that [public housing] box and help us figure out ‘What does it mean?’” said Pousson.

How does the lecture fit into the Baltimore Heritage’s “Race and Place in Baltimore Neighborhood Program Series”?

“The ‘Race and Place’ program here involves going to a number of different neighborhoods around the city to try to get at questions-  What are the different historical factors that have contributed to Baltimore’s history of segregation in both public and private housing?” said Pousson.

Public housing, he continued, is “a place where you can dive in and deal” with larger issues and questions about Baltimore’s past, present and future.

“Why are some neighborhoods segregated black and some are segregated white?…What is the relationship between public housing and segregation and civil rights?”

“We think that public housing is a good point of entry for looking at the post-World War II history of Baltimore,” said Pousson. It “touches directly on questions of race, segregation,” as well as relating to vacancy, disinvestment, and even gentrification.

The lecture event, which is free, will take place Thursday evening. Click here for event details.

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