Last week, OSI-Baltimore and The Enoch Pratt Free Library presented a joint Writer’s LIVE/Talking About Race event with OSI alumni Fellow, Dr. Lawrence T. Brown, author of The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America. Dr. Brown spoke with Dr. Jean Accius, Senior Vice President of AARP’s Global Thought Leadership.
You can view the event by clicking here.
Dr. Brown was introduced by another alumni Community Fellow, Patrice Hutton, who, along with Brown is a founding member of OSI’s Fellows Advisory Board. Hutton spoke of his support for the students in Writers in Baltimore Schools, the program she founded as part of her 2008 fellowship, and both Hutton and Brown paid tribute to 2003 OSI Fellow and civil rights activist Betty Robinson, who died in 2020.
Dr. Brown, in a dynamic and engaging presentation, spoke of Baltimore’s enduring legacy of racial segregation, beginning with the three City mayors (dubbed the “Godfathers of Baltimore Apartheid” by Brown) who instituted some of the earliest racially restrictive neighborhood covenants, segregated public housing, and the first law in American history to implement residential racial zoning. This long history of hyper-segregation continues to have lasting, detrimental socio-economic and health impacts on African American communities in Baltimore.
The phrase, “The Black Butterfly” (coined by Brown himself), is a reference to the fact that the majority of Baltimore’s Black population is spread out on either side of the “White L” that runs down the center of the city.
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The event was presented in partnership with AARP Maryland and OSI-Baltimore Fellows Advisory Board.