Race, Class, Power, and Organizing in East Baltimore: Rebuilding Abandoned Communities in America

Marisela B. Gomez



This book examines the historical and current practices of rebuilding abandoned and disinvested communities in America. Using a community in East Baltimore as an example, Race, Class, Power, and Organizing in East Baltimore shows how the social structure of race and class segregation of the past contributed in the creation of our present day urban poor and low-income communities of color; and continue to affect the way we rebuild these communities today. Specific to East Baltimore is the presence of a powerful and prestigious medical complex which has directly and indirectly affected the abandonment and rebuilding of East Baltimore. While it has grown in power and land over the past 100 years, the neighborhoods around it have decreased in size and capital, widening the gap between the rich and the poor. The author offers a critical analysis of the relationships between powerful private institutions like the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and government and their intention in rebuilding urban communities by asking the question “How do we determine equity in benefit?” Focusing on a current rebuilding project using eminent domain to displace historical African-American communities, and the acquiring of land for private development, this book details the role of community organizing in challenging these types of non-community participatory rebuilding processes, resulting in the gentrification of urban neighborhoods. The detailed analysis of the community organizing process when families are displaced offers similarly affected communities a tool box for challenging current developers and government in unfair rebuilding practices. The context of these practices highlights the current laws and policies that contribute to continued displacement and disadvantage to poor communities without addressing the rhetoric of the intention of government-subsidized private development. This book examines the effect of such non-participatory and non-transparent rebuilding practices on the health of the people and place.

ISBN 9781498511612
List price $59.99
Publisher Lexington Books
Year of publication 2015
Other editions:

Memory Against Forgetting: Marisela Gomez's book illuminates the history of the fight against displacement and dispossession in East Baltimore

December 15, 2013


Review by John Duda.

This review originally appeared on indyreader.org.

Let's start with a website. Visit ebdi.org and you'll find a glowing description of responsible urban development, of a large institution acting benevolently, even munificently, to lift up a troubled neighborhood, mired in generations of poverty, and bringing prosperity back to a decaying city. This is a good story, and one that postindustrial cities, clinging to their “anchor institutions,” are increasingly vocal in telling.

In Baltimore, however, this website and its reassuring story leaves something out: the real history of struggle, led by the residents of the Middle East neighborhood who have been fighting the East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI) for over a decade. These were the residents who learned that the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions (JHMI), through its quasi-public proxy EBDI, would be taking their homes through eminent domain: one morning when they woke up to the story in the Baltimore Sun. These were the residents who refused to go quietly and agree that the public good would be served at the cost of uprooting their community, and who dared to fight back against the very powerful institutions who wanted to decide the future of the Middle East. And these are the residents whose story is told in Dr. Marisela Gomez's new book, Race, Class, Power, and Organizing in East Baltimore.




In conversation: Mindy Fullilove and Marisela Gomez

March 16, 2014


In this wide-ranging and intense discussion, two critical urban scholar/activists invite us to imagine a city decoupled from the engines of gentrification and displacement, and challenge us to articulate what such a vision would concretely include: it's easy to say what we are against, but sometimes much harder to understand what we are for!  An amazing event, especially given the utter necessity of asking precisely these kinds of questions in the Station North neighborhood.