Out of the Blocks
The corner diner, Soul Source, is the hub of the 2100 block of Edmondson Avenue. The manager, Joyce, has been serving breakfast to the locals for 30 years. Her restaurant looks out onto a West Baltimore block scarred by gunshots and stabbings. But the block is more than its scars. It’s a block where a Pentecostal pastor keeps her faith in the face of suffering, where a reformed drug dealer works as a kitchen appliance repairman, and where a political reporter from Kashmir has found sanctuary working behind the counter at a sandwich shop. It’s a block where a former Nigerian soccer star operates an auto repair shop. In his car lot, he lets a homeless man sleep in a van. Next door is an army veteran who issued air-strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. And across the street is a tire repairman who’s trying to beat a 30-year heroin addiction. Crystal, who works in the kitchen at Soul Source, sums it up like this: It’s not always peaches and cream, but this is a place that you know is always going to be real .
In 2001, as the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Black United Front brought a federal lawsuit against the city of Cincinnati and the police department for racial bias, a white officer in Cincinnati shot an unarmed black teenager as he fled police. And then, along came a lengthy U.S. Department of Justice investigation that found a pattern of discriminatory practices by the department and an agreement for changes that took months to hammer out. The process of instituting those changes has lasted years. Some would say it’s ongoing.