May 24, 2010
Not in My Neighborhood
I am really glad to be joining Land Use Prof Blog as a guest blogger. Over the next few weeks, I look forward to contributing to an already lively discussion. My scholarship and practice interests have recently focused on land trusts, land banks and any other form of direct community control of land resources. If you wish to contact me with an idea or item, email me at JKelly[at]ubalt[dot]edu.
2010 marks the 100-year anniversary of the nation’s first racial zoning ordinance. (see Garrett Power’s law review article here). The Baltimore City Council passed it in the wake of nationwide race riots that followed Jack Johnson’s defense of the world heavyweight boxing title. I have just been reading a copy of Antero Pietila’s Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City lent to me by my colleague, Odeana Neal. It is an engaging chronicle of de jure and de facto residential segregation in 20th century Baltimore, exploring the exclusion of both Jews and African-Americans.
Pietila brings out the characters and stories that illustrate the high-minded racism of the eugenics era and the market-justified redlining of the FHA-predecessor, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation. The book kicks into high gear with its exploration of the moral ambiguity of “blockbusting” (civil rights advocacy? cynically manipulative profiteering? both?) in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1948 decision in Shelley v. Kraemer. Amidst these essential narratives are a few hidden gems such as the stories behind the siting of Morgan College (now Morgan State University) and the Social Security Administration and the roles these institutions played in anchoring Baltimore's largest African-American middle-class enclaves. Those considering the book for supplemental reading in land use and property courses might want to check out this 4/27 NPR local radio interview with the author.
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