Johns Hopkins series to examine reasons for unrest
‘Redlining Baltimore’ kicks off on April 6
By Lisa Robinson
The images of violence during the unrest in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray almost a year ago will be etched in the minds of many of those in Baltimore for years to come.
In April, Johns Hopkins University tackles the underlying issues of that unrest in a series called “Redlining Baltimore.”
Redlining is a practice of denying services, directly or through selectively raising prices, to residents of certain areas based on racial or ethnic makeups.
Johns Hopkins sociology professor Kathy Edin specializes in poverty research. She said new ideas emerge when you bring together unlikely partners from across the city.
“Academics and civil leaders, activists, artists, musicians so we can together bump up against one another in creative ways that open the conversation and allow for new ideas to emerge,” Edin said.
Lester Spence is a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University. He will be one of the series speakers and is an expert on race and urban policies.
Spence said examining redlining, especially as it relates to a community like Sandtown-Winchester, is critical.
“That neighborhood has a long history,” Spence said. “The best way to understand how that neighborhood is the way it is and why we have such a huge divide between the haves and have nots in Baltimore and the region is because of redlining.”
Baltimore City’s 2011 neighborhood health profile revealed that in the Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park neighborhood 30.9 percent of families lived in poverty and there were 2,411 vacant buildings. The Justice Policy Institute said the state spends $17 million a year to incarcerate people from this community.
Spence said the unrest was a door-opener.
“We can take that year anniversary and say now there are some things, some work left undone that we need to re-visit,” Spence said.
The first event in the Johns Hopkins series is April 6 and runs through May 4. Local activist and former star of “The Wire,” Sonja Sohn, will host each free event.
For a complete list of the series speakers, tap here.