ACLU-MD Marks 40th Anniversary of the 1968 Baltimore Riots and Fair Housing Act

 

April marks the 40th anniversary of the riots in Baltimore and other cities sparked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  This month also marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, enacted just days after the riots on April 11, 1968.


ACLU of Maryland's Fair Housing Project presented information on the history of residential segregation and public housing in Baltimore at two recent events.  Both presentations use historic documents, contemporaneous news articles, and maps from the archives of ACLU's landmark fair housing lawsuit, Thompson v. HUD. The presentations tell a visually compelling story of the rigid spatial segregation caused by public policies and the very limited progress that has been made since 1968 to expand housing opportunities for lower income African Americans. On April 4th, ACLU-MD Fair Housing Attorney Barbara Samuels delivered a presentation on racial segregation as a context for the riots, titled "The 1968 Riots and the History of Public Housing and Segregation in Baltimore" at the University of Baltimore's symposium "Baltimore '68: Riots and Rebirth."

 

See the presentation, "Baltimore '68: Riots and Bebirth"

 

On April 17th, the Maryland Environmental Justice Commission held a "listening session" in Baltimore's Cherry Hill neighborhood on plans for development of the Middle Branch shoreline and neighborhoods. ACLU-MD was asked to present the historical background of the development of public housing in Cherry Hill and Westport.  Cherry Hill is historically significant because it was founded during World War II as the nations first - and last - planned "Negro suburb."  Deemed the only "politically acceptable" area of Baltimore for construction of "Negro public housing" on undeveloped land, it came to have one of the largest concentrations of public housing east of Chicago.

 

See the presentation, "Segregation and Public Housing Development in Cherry Hill and Westport: Historical Background"

 

Learn more about ACLU-MD's landmark public housing desegregation case