Since 2009, OSI-Baltimore has been presenting this free, public series as a way of sparking sometimes difficult conversations about how race intersects with our lives. In 2018, we partnered with the Pratt Library and Baltimore Ceasefire to present discussions that were particularly relevant to current events, in hopes that they could help guide Baltimore residents and leaders to policy solutions.
The Criminalization of Poverty in America
In March, we partnered with the Pratt Library to present a conversation between author and Georgetown Law Professor Peter Edelman and Johns Hopkins Political Science and Africana Studies Associate Professor Lester Spence on the themes of Edelman’s recent book, Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America. Edelman explained how money bail systems, fees and fines, strictly enforced laws and regulations against behavior including trespassing and public urination that largely affect the homeless, and the substitution of prisons and jails for the mental hospitals that have traditionally served the impoverished have effectively made it a crime to be poor and disproportionately impact African-Americans. In a wide ranging discussion and lively Q-and-A session with the audience, he and Spence talked about efforts to change the systems in Maryland and nationally, including bail reform and other criminal justice reform efforts and how to plug into them.
Mothers of the Movement Speak
In May, we collaborated with Baltimore Ceasefire on an event to hear from mothers who have lost children to police and gun violence and discuss ways to respond to the violence. OSI Director Diana Morris and Ceasefire’s Erricka Bridgeford opened the event and then Bakari Kitwana, author and founder of Rap Sessions, moderated a panel discussion and audience Q-and-A with Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; and Marion Gray-Hopkins, mother of Gary Albert Hopkins, Jr. Afterwards, participants broke into smaller groups for in-depth discussions, moderated by members of Baltimore Ceasefire.