You are here

Exploring the 'Dastardly, Devastating' Effects of Redlining

The 21st Century Cities Initiative's debut discussion series draws hundreds to discuss Baltimore's history of racial discrimination
Posted June 14, 2016
Sonia Sarkar, a Hopkins alumna and the chief policy and engagement officer for the Baltimore City Health Department, spoke at the Redlining Baltimore event on April 13. Sonia Sarkar, a Hopkins alumna and the chief policy and engagement officer for the Baltimore City Health Department, spoke at the Redlining Baltimore event on April 13.

Redlining Baltimore, a series addressing the city's complicated racial history, attracted standing-room-only crowds over four evenings earlier this spring. Sponsored by the Johns Hopkins 21st Century Cities Initiative and a handful of in-kind donors, the series was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the unrest that followed the death of Freddie Gray and focused on how the effects of redlining — the historical practice of denying mortgages and other services to certain populations and geographic locations based on racially charged boundaries and biases — remain plainly evident in Baltimore.

"Redlining has had a dastardly, devastating effect on the black community by preventing the building of black wealth in Baltimore," said actress Sonja Sohn, founder of Baltimore-based nonprofit ReWired for Change and emcee of the series. "[Last year's] uprising was a cry for justice, and we need to rise from that."

View highlights from each of the four Redlining Baltimore events via the links below.

Legacy: Living and Coming of Age Inside the Redline

Experience: Public Health and the Redline (including Baltimore Requiem: A musical performance by Jarrett Gilgore '15 (Peab) and Baltimore rapper Eze Jackson)

Opportunity: Inclusive Development and Wealth Creation Inside the Redline

Transformation: The Future of Justice and Knowledge of the Redline

Redlining Baltimore provided a platform for local activists, such as Baltimore City high school student and CityBloc organizer Makayla Gilliam-Price, and nonprofit leaders, such as OneBaltimore chairman Michael Cryor, to share their experiences and ideas with a wide audience. The series also featured scholars associated with local universities and the 21st Century Cities Initiative to disseminate the results of their research to the people who could benefit from it the most: Baltimore's citizens.

"Generating knowledge for the world requires hitting the sweet spot between scholarly relevance and political importance. I can think of no better issue to put the powerful resources of Hopkins to bear than redlining," said Lester Spence, PhD, an associate professor in the Krieger School and a 21st Century Cities Initiative steering committee member.

"This series exemplified the 21st Century Cities Initiative's vision to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders for an honest and open conversation about deep-rooted challenges facing cities like Baltimore and the multidisciplinary solutions required to address them," said Ben Seigel, the initiative's executive director.

Learn more about how you can help the 21st Century Cities Initiative bring attention to important, timely topics like redlining to audiences in Baltimore and beyond.