Five decades ago, before the riots of 1968, Baltimore’s Sandtown neighborhood was a vibrant community of about 40,000 laborers, professionals and artists. These days less than half that many people live there, and the numbers paint a picture of a community in poor health, with high unemployment, deep poverty, and children not attending school regularly.
Yet, even with these struggles, the fabric of community relationships holds strong. The combination highlights the depth and stubbornness of the social problems in Sandtown. The week after the riot and protests in April, we were asking the same questions as many residents and outsiders: what can bring stability to this part of West Baltimore? More jobs? Improved housing? Better coordinating leadership among these different groups ?
To talk about the investment in Sandtown, past and present, Elder Clyde Harris of Newborn Community Faith Church joined me in the studio. He is a native of Sandtown, pastor, a community activist and an urban farmer. With us on the line from the Washington Post was Michael Fletcher has lived in Baltimore for 30 years, and is national economics correspondent for the Post.