How Gentrification and Displacement Are Remaking Boston

How Gentrification and Displacement Are Remaking Boston

This post is part of our online forum on Race, Property, and Economic History.

“Roxbury Love” mural on Warren Street, Boston. (Photo: Joe Difazio for WBUR)

Ask anyone in Boston, “what’s going on in Roxbury?” and the word you’re most likely to hear is gentrification. Ask that same question in the predominantly Black neighborhood of Roxbury, and the word you’re probably going to hear is displacement. These two responses both say something important about what’s happening in Boston as well as in other cities across the nation.

As speculators, developers and realtors marvel at record breaking real estate sales in Roxbury, real estate prices continue to soar at an alarming rate in what was once, dismissively, if not disparagingly, called “the ghetto.” For many longtime residents, it may represent a “perfect storm”–a devastating mix of racialized gentrification, property exploitation, displacement, and capitalism. These changes have occurred so rapidly and with such ferocity, in fact, that the term “hyper-gentrification” more aptly describes Boston’s current trajectory.

According to a study by the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, the median income for Black and Brown families living in the Greater Roxbury area is $30,000. The median net worth of white households in Boston stands at $247,000. And the median net worth for Black households is just $8.00–yes, eight dollars–and $28.60 for Latino households.1

A short stroll through the communities that comprise Roxbury clearly tells the tale. A boon for the real estate market has been a bust for long-time community residents. The sorrow and sadness that this hyper-gentrification has caused for working people who have lived in these neighborhoods, sometimes for their entire lives, has become a veritable “Trail of Tears” for Black and Brown Americans in Boston—one that has marked the legacy of Black Bostonians ever since their slow sojourn from the North slope of Beacon Hill in the 19th century. The oldest extant Black church in America, the African Meeting House, still stands triumphantly in what is now the most expensive neighborhood in the entire city. Beginning in the 1900s, African Americans began migrating toward the current-day heart of the Black community, first to The South End, and later to the neighborhoods Southwest of Beacon Hill, a mere six miles away. Their houses of worship soon followed. Churches with names like 12th Baptist Church, and Charles Street AME Church closed the doors to the buildings they once occupied in Beacon Hill, and moved to the current heart of the Black communities where they are now located.

The African Meeting House is among the 77 Save America’s Treasures grants, which embody the experiences, achievements and contributions of African-Americans to U.S. culture and history. Photo: Max A. van Balgooy.

Boston has been and continues to be, in all the ways that matter, one of the most segregated cities by race in the nation. Additionally, Boston is rapidly becoming one of the most deeply gentrified cities in the United States.  This “deep segregation” has had long-lasting implications to Boston’s public housing and public education, in addition to virtually every other aspect of daily life. The neighborhoods that form the epicenter of Boston’s black community–Mattapan, North Dorchester and Upper-Roxbury–went from almost completely white, mainly Jewish, to predominately Black (only 10% white) in the four years between 1968-1972. Much of this change has to do with the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, specifically the Federal Housing Act of 1968, which outlawed discrimination in the housing market and finally made it possible for many Black families to purchase homes in any neighborhood in America. As Lew Finfer, long-time housing advocate recalls,

This led to the formation of the Boston Banks Urban Renewal Group (BBURG), which existed between 1968 and 1972. In this well-intended but ultimately failed initiative, banks promised to make home ownership loans to African-American families. However, in this program Black families could buy homes only in existing Black neighborhoods and the then predominantly White and predominantly Jewish sections of Mattapan and North Dorchester. This ‘reverse redlining’ led to blockbusting by realtors and racial conflict as neighborhoods turned from 90% White to 90% Black in only four years.

Rooted in the Black Power demands for self-determination, Boston’s communities of color had worked to address the growing problem of gentrification since the late 1960s and all through the 1970s. In 1986, Andrew Jones and Curtis Davis, both newcomers to Boston, presented a ballot initiative to have the right to pose the question of seceding from Boston to re-incorporate as its own municipality called Mandela, Massachusetts. With rhetoric steeped in the Civil Rights Movement and deeply impacted by the experiences of Blacks in other parts of the Diaspora, Andrew Jones, a 34-year-old classical violinist, and independent television producer, and Curtis Davis, a Harvard trained architect, started an organization called GRIP (the Greater Roxbury Incorporation Project) and so began the tumultuous fight for Black self-sufficiency.

Jones, the primary driver, and radical apparatchik who drew heavily on his television news experience to stoke public opinion about Mandela, declared from the steps of the Massachusetts State House,

We feel that we have a ‘colonial relationship’ with the city of Boston; we feel that the city of Boston has treated us like second-class citizens and we’re fighting for basic rights of citizenship.

Jones, who had attended prep school in Exeter, NH, was profoundly impacted by the traditions of liberty, democracy and the small-town approach of New England-style civic life—one which he saw as being based on the spirit of liberty from the revolutionary period. For Jones, ever the ideologue, the Mandela movement put them more in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson, than Steve Biko. As such, the organizing strategy was a hybrid of anti-colonial ideas drawing from revolutionary war-era rhetoric and an ideology just as much influenced by Tanzania president Julius Nyerere’s “ujamaa” concept of self-government and cooperative economics. Like the Republic of New Africa (RNA), which attempted to lay claim to an independent Black republic created out of the southern states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, the RNA proposed that these lands separate from the larger United States to function as “a government in exile” for Black Americans and the basis for a new Black nation.

Conceived a mere twelve years after court-ordered busing in Boston, “Mandela” symbolized in many ways an attempt to address the equity issues that were never completely resolved after the school desegregation crisis of the 1970s.  By the mid-1980s, “land control” became the reigning civil rights issue for the Black community in Boston. The backdrop was very much Reagan’s America, where social services were being cut and hip-hop was the medium of expression on the streets.

Members of Boston Police tactical force take an African American youth into custody on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 1974 in Boston during a disturbance in the Roxbury section. (AP Photo)

The founders of GRIP began their organizing by sponsoring monthly breakfast meetings at the Harvard Faculty Club, which Curtis Davis had access to as a Harvard alum. Davis, for his part was much more the organizer and builder, having spent a career as an architect and early pioneer of the CDC model of development. For about a year, the organizers held meetings at Harvard and seeded the idea throughout the political and community leadership. This, in combination with a coordinated campaign of door-knocking, community meetings, and an organizing strategy based on the New England-style “town hall” meeting, the gatherings were led largely by the Greater Roxbury Neighborhood Authority (GRNA), a group organized by Bob Terrell and Chuck Turner, who tried to bring the “neighborhood government” concept to reality in the form of the Roxbury Neighborhood Council.2

November 4th, 2016 marked the 30th anniversary of the historic referendum, where approximately 50,000 Boston voters, living in or near the GRIP-proposed “Greater Roxbury” area, voted on whether Boston’s communities of color should leave Boston and establish a new and separate municipality to be named in honor of Nelson Mandela, or remain a part of Boston. Mandela, Massachusetts included wards and precincts in much–if not all– of the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain, the Fenway, the South End, and parts of Dorchester including what was then known as Columbia Point.

Mandela, Massachusetts, as an autonomous Black-majority city, did not come to fruition but the drive behind it sparked everlasting changes to the city’s budgetary process, real assessment, community input in the city’s development processes and a general awareness of the Black condition in Boston. In the wake of other destructive changes such as deindustrialization, globalization, and rising unemployment, local government, the business community, non-profit organizations, and residents were compelled to come up with new solutions to these daunting problems on the local level. If Mandela had succeeded, it would have served as a model for self-determination, as understood by those influenced by the movement.

The tale of Mandela lives on in Roxbury. Local artists Richard Gomez, known locally as “Deme Cinco” and Thomas Burns, also known as “Kwest,” recently created a block-long, spray-painted mural of the former South African President Nelson Mandela flanked by the words “Roxbury Love,” and splashed with the Pan-African colors of red, green and gold. The symbol of Mandela of course has deeply resonated with denizens of Roxbury because of the potent symbol that the name Mandela became.

Today, there is much talk about “a new Boston”— one in which the racism and discrimination associated with earlier eras such as “busing” or “Mandela” is no more. Groups such as the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) who sponsored Freeze Frame in Roxbury continue to carry the torch for community control. But we need to make “displacement prevention” a societal priority and not just a governmental one. Government intervention is needed in a free market economy; that’s only likely to increase in the context of hyper-gentrification. The current efforts to stem gentrification and displacement in Roxbury call for new approaches and technologies such as using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to create a publicly accessible regional database, “heat maps” of neighborhood change, and an overall increase in the land trust held by community groups, all become critical in this re-imagining of Boston. The horns of the dilemma are jobs and housing. Without significant government intervention,this ‘perfect storm’ of hyper-gentrification and displacement is unlikely to abate anytime soon.

  1.  Federal Reserve of Boston’s “Color of Wealth” Report., By Ana Patricia Muñoz , March 25, 2015.
  2.  “Greater Roxbury Incorporation Project: A New Municipality” Northeastern University Special Collections.

Impact of Student Loans on Black Wealth

The Impact of Student Loans on Black Wealth

This post is part of our online forum on Race, Property, and Economic History.

President Barack Obama jokes with participants in the Roosevelt Room of the White House before making a statement on student loans in the Rose Garden in 2013. (Credit: Pete Souza, Wikimedia Commons)

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the largest financial aid corruption scandal in U.S. history. At the heart of the scandal was Student Loan Xpress, an upstart company whose brief history in the student loan origination business included a track record of poor customer service, high-priced fees (or at least not providing $0 or reduced fees), and high rates of student defaults.

Despite such markers of mediocrity for five years running, Student Loan Xpress was nestled atop the University of Texas’s list of preferred student lenders in 2007. For UT Austin’s financial aid office, loan performance or quality of the student loan product was, in the personal handwritten notes of another UT preferred lender, “the least important factor [original emphasis].” Rather, what Dr. Lawrence Burt, UT Austin’s financial services director and his financial aid office cared most about was the quid pro quo, which came by way of offers of company stock, exclusive resort stays, birthday parties for family members, tickets to sporting events, and bottomless bottles of wine and tequila, apparently Burt’s favorite.  In effect, students were left to pick up the tab for Burt’s boozing.

In exchange, Burt and his team steered students to Student Loan Xpress and other preferred lenders who provided these inducements. Because 90 percent of all loans taken out by students or their parents came from this list, making the list was critical for lenders that wished to increase their market share of loans—an $85 billion a year industry by 2007.

While the Texas scandal may be the best known, these inducements appeared more the rule than the exception. As many as 500 colleges were potentially involved as well. Every school imaginable was implicated, from those in Maine to Hawaii, from for-profit colleges and elite private schools to regional and flagship state universitiesLegal counsel for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators defended the practice with an everyone-does-it-defense. It was “perfectly acceptable” at the time for a college to accept several thousand dollars from a lender for a golf tournament or some similar benefit, NAFA attorney Sheldon E. Steinbach insisted to reporters. “Now there isn’t a school in the country that I know of that would not accept that kind of gift,” he added. In exchange for gifts, lenders were often added or moved up on the preferred list of student lenders.

Nor was it the act of a rogue lender. The eight largest student lenders—Sallie Mae, College Loan Corporation, and Nelnet as well as the usual too-big-to-fail suspects Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Wachovia, and Wells Fargo—engaged in providing inducements of one kind or another. Such quid pro quos were both ubiquitous and illegal. Compensation, benefits, and favors offered by lenders violated Section 435(d)(5) of the Higher Education Act, which prohibited student lenders from offering monetary or in-kind rewards to school officials for preferential treatment in the Federal Family Education Loans.

Launching the first investigation in 2007, New York’s attorney general Andrew Cuomo spoke of the “unknowable harm” resulting from sweetheart deals between lenders and schools’ financial aid administrators. Similarly, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) who chaired a subsequent Congressional investigation, feared it was an “impossible task” to know how much such lawbreaking cost student borrowers and taxpayers, since the federal government guaranteed partial payments for any student loan defaults.

They were right. The downstream consequences of the scandal are still with us, and especially with the borrowers.

The Spring 2017 Graduation Ceremony at Florida A&M University (Courtesy of FAMU News)

Given that it takes about 21 years for the average borrower to pay off a loan, we are—some 10 years later—only midway through this financial fallout. And though the federally insured private student loan program ended in 2010, borrowers are still paying off those loans. As I discuss in my forthcoming book Land of the Fee, that’s not simply because the average borrower takes two decades to pay off her or his loan or the reality that when market setters like Sallie Mae or Citibank offer poor credit products, it incentivizes even scrupulous lenders to charge higher rates and fees. There’s also a hidden “hangover effect.” Higher-price student loans may linger over the life of a student borrower by lowering her/his debt-to-income ratio—thereby dragging down one’s credit score which results in being charged higher interest rates on credit cards or car notes. When it comes to wealth building, this hangover effect means higher rates and fees on a home mortgage or potentially delaying homeownership for years. Indeed, there is a high correlation among a college education, student loans and the delay in a home purchase. Bottom line: student loans may be far more costly than their advertised sticker price. Or, bottom line, thanks to the hidden hangover effect of student loans, have increasingly made the college campus less a site of upward mobility than of indebtedness.

It’s also reasonable to assume the largest scandal in financial aid history likely hit Black students the hardest. Blacks are more likely to borrow compared with other racial groups and borrow higher amounts. According to a recent report from Prosperity NowThe Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class, 90 percent of Black students took on student debt to finance college compared with just 65 percent by whites and 71 percent overall.

And as previous studies by Demos and the College Board indicate, Blacks also have higher student debt burdens—burdens that also delay Black homeownership among Black college graduates compared with non-Black graduates, 56 percent to 46 percent. Among all borrowers, Black women tend to suffer most: They’re the only demographic that owes more than they earn one year out from graduating.

Postponing homeownership is partly because higher student loan debt increases Black borrowers’ debt-to-income ratio, which drag down their credit scores and make it more expensive to take out mortgages. With higher student loan debt, one is charged higher rates and additional fees for a credit card, auto loan, or even renting an apartment—anything that takes into account one’s credit score. Because homeownership is the primary driver of asset accumulation in America, this delay in homeownership means Blacks are delaying building equity, resulting in widening the racial wealth gap even further. And this threatens to leave taxpayers paying the bill for badly serviced and faulty student loan products.

Because these costlier federally guaranteed student loans increased borrowers’ odds for defaulting, it meant taxpayers ultimately pay more. Why has this corrupt and corrosive system survived? For that we can thank moneyed interests whose successful lobbying and financial contributions to lawmakers would shield the illegal inducement practices from greater enforcement and legislative oversight.

With a congressional tax proposal that will eliminate the student loan interest deduction and disproportionately harm African Americans, who tend to have higher student loan balances, in addition to Trump’s rolling back regulations faster and to a greater degree than any of his predecessors, our legislative and executive branches promise to make the country’s future look remarkably like its recent past. This “future past” will again prove to be defined by less policing of student loan lenders, thus burying even higher numbers of Blacks—as well as Latinxs and women—deeper in debt.

Funds of Knowledge for Teaching by Moll, Amanti, Neff & González

Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms

The goal of the study was to develop innovations in teaching that draw upon the knowledge and skills found in local households. They are used in a social network to facilitate the development and exchange of resources, including knowledge, skills and labor, that enhances the household’s ability to survive or flourish.

Relationships are thick and multi stranded- they are more than one kind of interaction/relationship with the same person. Social relationship as well as “teacher” relationship for a particular skill or knowledge area.

In schools, classroom teachers know students to a limited context, they are isolated from the social world and does not have a ready access to funds of knowledge in the community

Children often play a more passive role in the classroom, furthermore, teachers don’t understand the environmental and psychological environments that their students are in.

Teachers and anthropologists worked together to conduct the interviews with families, but teachers were ultimately responsible for using the information to create lessons. The teachers worked collaboratively to try to develop lessons or learning modules based on the information they gained.

Furthermore, teachers identified various connection between the various funds of knowledge observed in homes and based learning modules on information that was both relevant to students, cultures as well as engaging on a personal level. If this is going on in classrooms, this will cause a domino effect, leading parents to be more involved in their children’s studies, then this will build teacher-parent relationships and break stereotypes and assumptions about individual student or cultures in general. These actions will compile interactively in a social manner over time.

Mahen Kariyakarawana

The #WakandaSyllabus

The #WakandaSyllabus

greasonThe following list was compiled by Dr. Walter Greason, who is the author of The American Economy, a collection of documents and essays on the economic history of the United States (Kendall Hunt, 2016). He currently teaches economic history at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ. Dr. Greason is the founder of the International Center of Metropolitan Growth, a firm that publishes economic reports for states, municipalities, non-profit organizations, and small businesses around the world. His most recent book, Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement in New Jersey, documents forgotten chapters in the northern Civil Rights Movement, while explaining the failure of racial integration to address economic inequality. In 2011, Dr. Greason won a grant from the Mellon Foundation for his innovative pedagogy, earning him recognition as an International Master Teacher. You can follow him on Twitter @WorldProfessor



The most recent success in the emerging industry of multi-platform entertainment is “Captain America: Civil War.” The film focused on the painful sacrifices related to friendship and family, but the star character that emerged from the story was T’Challa, the Black Panther, Marvel Entertainment’s first black superhero. He first appears in the print narrative in 1966, the same year that the Black Panther Party began. The two events were unrelated; though Marvel considered changing the character’s name after the activist organization became controversial in the eyes of white Americans. For the first two decades of the fictional Black Panther’s existence, his stories reinforced a peripheral, exotic notion of the African continent with occasional political commentary to condemn Apartheid South Africa or the Ku Klux Klan.

Only after Christopher Priest reinvented the character in 1998 did T’Challa become a central figure in the Marvel Universe. For Priest, the Black Panther was the symbol of political and economic strength among a generation of heroes whose compromised values reflected the confusion of the United States in a world emerging from a Cold War. Later writers like Dwayne McDuffie and Reginald Hudlin built on this foundation, establishing T’Challa as a representative of a transcendent, pan-African nation whose past, present, and future stood untarnished by a thousand years of cultural conflict in the surrounding world. For these writers and the audiences that supported them, T’Challa’s nation – Wakanda – was a black utopia.

They seized the vacuous space provided by the white writers and editors of Marvel comics and imagined a place where black identity and the African diaspora were the pinnacles of human civilization. This project – the re-imagining of space and place in the racial context of Western civilization – has antecedents in the United States that stretch back to the foundations of the republic. Activists like Mary McLeod Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Lillie Hendry all understood the power to invest a space, a time, and a location with a cultural power that would inspire future generations. Sacrifice marks space, creating place, and changing history. This tradition defines how the fictional Black Panther seized the world’s imagination and invited the world to visit Wakanda in 2018. T’Challa emerged as the fictional representation of those countless dreams denied; the unbroken manhood that Ossie Davis famously invoked after the assassination of Malcolm X. Wakanda symbolized the dreams of black utopias like Ethiopia and South Africa that had grown as the Black Freedom Struggle grew over the twentieth century.

In this moment when superheroes become a way to explore contemporary anxieties about activism and authority, the Black Panther provides an opportunity for global audiences to study the traditions of black nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and the variety of African indigenous cultures. Dr. Walter Greason (Monmouth University) took a few minutes to suggest a collaborative exploration of these influences on Twitter (@worldprofessor). He posted the initial suggestions on Storify under the title “Wakanda Syllabus.” Equally inspired by the history of black creative expression and cultural analysis, Dr. Greason also included many of the most compelling new works on Afrofuturism. Please continue to share your suggestions and resources on social media to engage new communities in discussion about the influences that remove these dreams from the category of black utopias and into the realities of black communities.


Jonathan Gayles, White Scripts, Black Supermen

Sun Ra, Springtime in Chicago

Fela Kuti, Zombie

DJ Lynnee Denise

Jeru the Damaja, Can’t Stop the Prophet

The Last Emperor, Secret Wars (part 1)

MF Doom f. Talib Kweli, Old School

Talib Kweli f. Black Thought & Pharoahe Monch, Guerrilla Monsoon Rap

A Brother from Another Planet

Reginald Hudlin career profile

Ron Eglash, African Fractals

Nettrice Gaskins, Maker


Sheree Renee Thomas, Dark Matter

Nnedi Okorafor, The Shadow Speaker

Ngugi wa’Thiongo, The River Between

 Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

Christopher Priest, Black Panther

Dwayne McDuffie career profile

Walidah Imarisha, Adrienne Marie Brown, Sheree Renee Thomas, Octavia’s Brood

Daniel Jose Older, Shadowshaper

W.E.B. DuBois, Dark Princess

Richard Wright, Native Son

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Geoffrey Thorne, Dreamnasium

Octavia Butler, Wildseed

Octavia Butler, Kindred

Tananarive Due, My Soul to Keep

Sebastian Jones & Amandla Stenberg, Niobe

Sofia Samatar, Lisa Bolekaja, et al., Long Hidden

Sofia Samatar, The Winged Histories

Julie Dash & Octavia Butler: A Conversation

Walter D. Greason, Communion


Maghan Keita, Race and the Writing of History

Mau Mau

Gaspar Yanga

Black Loyalists


Sierra Leone

Shaka Zulu


Ali Mazrui, The Africans

Winston James, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia

Robin Kelley, Race Rebels

Robin Kelley, Freedom Dreams

Marcus Garvey

Amy Jacques Garvey

HBO, Tuskegee Airmen

Akinyele Umoja, We Will Shoot Back

Ytasha Womack

Sheena Howard & Ronald Jackson II, eds.,  Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation

Jeffrey A. Brown, Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics, and Their Fans

Janell Hobson, Venus in the Dark

Mel Watkins, On the Real Side

William H. Foster, III, Looking for a Face like Mine

Adilifu Nama, Super Black

The Root, “Afrofuturism”

Julian Chambliss, Ages of Heroes, Eras of Men 

Frances Gateward and John Jennings, The Blacker The Ink

Trevor Getz and Liz Clarke, Abina and the Important Men

The Amazing Adventures of Race in Comics


Hudlin Forum

Museum of Black Superheroes

Brave New Souls

Invisible Universe


The End of Eating Everything

Black Panther: The Animated Series

Black Radical Imagination

But They’re Ours

The Last Angel of History

East Coast Black Age of Comics

Urban Development and Colonialism

The Connections Between
Urban Development
and Colonialism

This post is part of our online forum on Race, Property, and Economic History.

Baltimore Inner Harbor from the National Aquarium (Photo: G. Edward Johnson, Wikimedia Commons).

“It’s kind of manifest destiny…now the marketplace and the city has begun to catch up.” This is how architect David Manfredi recently described a billion-dollar residential, commercial, and retail complex to be built in 2015 in Baltimore. Speaking to a reporter, Manfredi was emphasizing how the new project he was working on would further extend the upscale development of Baltimore’s old waterfront into formerly industrial territory. His word choice was telling.

Manifest destiny” was a phrase coined in 1845 to call for the westward expansion of white settlement and slavery across North America as well as to sanction Native American genocide and a war with Mexico. Probably unwittingly, the architect spelled out the real yet subtle connection between contemporary urban development across North America and the history of settler colonialism. These ostensibly distinct “destinies,” in Baltimore and the West had common roots in colonial and imperial investment dating back over a century.

Long before upscale glass high rise complexes dotted Baltimore’s harbor, earlier developers planned some of thefirst segregated suburbs in the United States, and they did so with the aid of British investors. Financed with capital from four hundred British shareholders in 1891, the newly created Roland Park Company worked to ensure long-term returns for its investors by experimenting with racial segregation. The Roland Park Company sought to deliver steeper returns with racial exclusion. The Company spearheaded the use of racially restrictive covenants as a way to boost the value of their residential communities. Such contracts, first used in Baltimore’s affluent suburbs, contained strict community-wide rules that made no distinction between prohibiting Blacks, livestock, and factories. Each appeared in a long list of banned “nuisances.”

The deeper connections between an earlier era of urban development and colonialism become apparent when looking at these shareholders and where they got the capital that they invested in the forms of segregation that became foundational for the rise of Jim Crow. Two of the Roland Park Company’s biggest investors have a traceable history of previous business ventures that gave them the capital to invest in Baltimore. Both Alfred Fryer and Jacob Bright had become wealthy through colonial investments in the mid-nineteenth century.

Alfred Fryer (1830-1892) began to accumulate capital as a Manchester sugar refiner in the 1850s, processing cane from the Caribbean. At that point, sugar production in the Caribbean was still deeply connected to the structures of the slave economy. Great Britain had abolished slavery in the Caribbean in 1833, providing compensation for slave owners, but the enslaved themselves received nothing. On the island of Antigua, many free Blacks left the sugar estates for part of the week to work in markets or at the ports; however, contract laws and bad economic conditions ended part-time estate work. Little land existed outside the estates, allowing planters to reestablish the labor and legal regime that had existed under slavery over the next three decades. Even Blacks who left the estates to found new villages often remained tied to the sugar economy. For example, many of the formally enslaved produced the specialized hats that Black workers wore when ploughing fields. Yet others moved from one estate to another looking for the least brutal conditions under which to work.

Still image of sugar cane cutters in Jamaica during the late 19th century (Wikimedia Commons).

Fryer’s entry into Antigua was facilitated by the West Indian Encumbered Estates Act (1854). This act further enriched former slave owners by abrogating debts on the land. Antigua planters welcomed the act and intermediaries did swift business in buying and reselling estates. Fryer took the opportunity to purchase six estates, eventually founding the Fryer’s Concrete Company along with other British engineers and sugar refiners. The company produced a durable crystallized sugar product called “concrete,” which it then shipped to refiners in England. But if concrete was processed in Fryer’s own patented sugar machinery, the labor involved in actually growing and harvesting the sugar was the cheapest available. Before emancipation, the land that came to be Fryer’s estate was worked by at least 1,137 slaves, many of whom (as well as their descendants) ended up working for Fryer’s Concrete. Fryer’s business, in short, depended on continuing the exploitation of black labor under colonial conditions.

Jacob Bright (1821-1899), in turn, was an owner of cotton mills outside Manchester who became one of the Fryer’s Concrete investors. But Bright had his hands on many other ventures as well. He carried on his family’s political legacy as a Liberal member of parliament from 1867 until 1895. Over those decades, he invested in land, government bonds, banks, and companies on four continents. In January 1885, Bright assumed the directorship of the British Congo Company, having helped to defeat a British treaty that would have given Portugal control over the Congo River Basin. He anticipated that the company would soon gain access to the land and resources around the basin—and he was right. The 1884–85 Berlin Conference, involving the United States and European powers, formalized many of the mechanisms of European colonialism over the African continent. The conference gave rise to the Congo Free State, which granted trading rights to the British in the river basin. The British Congo Company’s boats gained access to the river and supplied material the company then exported.

Kansas City financiers Samuel Miller Jarvis (1853-1913) and Roland Ray Conklin (1858-1938) concentrated their capital into US westward expansion, thousands of miles away from Antigua and the Congo. White settlements in what is now Utah and Idaho were making survival increasingly difficult for local Northwestern Shoshone Indians. In 1863 federal troops retaliated for a Northwestern Shoshone raid by killing three hundred men, women, and children in the Bear River Massacre. This spurred negotiations between the Northwestern Shoshone and the federal government, opening the area to state-sponsored settlements and enabling railroads to run their rights of way through the valley. The railroads sold land near the tracks to two Jarvis and Conklin, who formed the Bear River Canal Company to supply water to towns in Utah and Idaho. Jarvis and Conklin may not have displaced members of the Northwestern Shoshone themselves, just like Fryer did not employ slaves. However, they made advantageous business decisions directly based on the results of colonial state violence. The primary customers of Bear River water were the very ranchers who settled the area and who employed Northwestern Shoshone as low-paid seasonal farm laborers and domestic servants. Jarvis and Conklin also sold canal bonds to British and Scottish investors. Fryer was one of them.

This sign, located on U.S. Highway 91, briefly describes the Bear River Massacre (Photo: Robert Scott Horning, Wikimedia Commons).

In 1887, Jarvis and Conklin reached out to Fryer about a new venture, who, in turn, brought Bright on board. They founded the Lands Trust Company in London the following year. The company released a mission statement declaring that it would purchase “lands in those more newly settled parts of the United States, or in the Colonies, where from the influx of population they are rapidly enhancing in value.”1 Such a mission struck a chord among members of the British public, who subscribed to all 500,000 shares of the company, at one pound each, within three months. The lands they invested in included not only western territories that stood in the path of white settlement, but also property on the peripheries of rapidly growing cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, and Baltimore, where affluent whites sought places to live away from central cities. For some, this might have been the only investment they made in their lifetimes. For others, such as Fryer and Bright, the Lands Trust Company was simply the latest of their globe-spanning investments, funded by the ones that preceded it.

In 1891, the Lands Trust Company financed Baltimore’s Roland Park Company, which went on to develop a 2500-acre district in northern Baltimore that remains one of the majority-black city’s whitest and wealthiest enclaves. Here, as in the Antigua, the Congo, and Utah, profit was predicated on white settlement. Beyond the masonry walls, tall hedges, and dead-end streets that constitute the district’s well-defined borders, lay impoverished neighborhoods inhabited by those that deed restrictions excluded for the sake of returns on the investment. The practices pioneered by the Roland Park Company effectively tied real-estate profit to racial exclusion in ways that would inform federal housing policy in the decades to come. These policies have made it extremely difficult for blacks to build and pass on wealth. Linking all of these apparently unconnected ventures is not just a common source of investment in British shareholders like Fryer and Bright, but in how they reaped profits from the dispossession of land and wealth from people of color.

Given the history of development in Baltimore, it is fitting that one of the architects responsible for Baltimore’s harbor project described it as a “kind of manifest destiny.” Those links continue into the present. Manfredi works for Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT). Though relatively understudied, Real Estate Investment Trusts channel international capital into urban property development. COPT specializes not only in urban real estate but tools of present-day American imperialism: national security and defense property for the U.S. government. By referencing manifest destiny, the architect tapped into the deep connections linking American real estate and colonialism.

  1.  Prospectus for the Lands Trust Company, London Metropolitan Archives, London Stock Exchange, Applications for Listing CLC/B/004/F/01/MS18000/23B/S49.

Critical Race Theory in Education: A Review of Past Literature and a Look to the Future by Ledesma & Calderón

Critical race theory in education: A review of literature and look to the future

The article looks at the development of critical race theory in education, paying attention to how researchers use CRT and its various branches in the study of K-12 and higher education. The article focuses on CRT scholarships that offer tools to engage with and work against racism within education. This requires an engagement and articulation with the material being taught along with  structural and ideological mechanisms of white supremacy.    

 In the past few years the critical race theory has become an increasingly permanent fixture in the toolkit of educational opportunities, school climate, representations, and pedagogy. 

 CRT has evolved into a type of revolutionary project. It has provided invaluable insight, primarily on the aspect of white supremacy patriarchy that has been historically framed and shaped educational aspects in cultural groups. 

 CRT recognizes the existence of race and racism throughout the educational pipeline, it has the tools that can be utilized by teachers to ensure that students all have an equal opportunity to gain a quality education,  the majoritarian structure of the current K-20 educational system need to be restructured so that issues involving race and color can be eliminated. CRT reminds teachers to understand the different aspects of racism and take action against it. By answering the bell for social justice activism, educators can use their influence to fight for equality in many marginalized groups.  

 Likewise, on the institutional level, there needs to be a change in; 

Initiatives, infrastructure, environments, curriculum, pedagogy, financing and policies to eliminate the promotion of racism, inequalities and social injustices. Educators should continue to identify ways to sove problems that occur in the school environment. Using tools provided by the CRT can be difficult and unpopular, however, they need to be enforced in order to see progress in the school environment.  

Mahen Kariyakarawana

Centering the Social Justice Needs of Teachers by Kohli, Picower and Martinez


A model of critical professional development known as APD (antidiagonal professional development ) is being combated with teachers being participants in a cooperative dialectical process, since there is an increasing technocratic system developing between teachers and students (Kohli, 7)

In this study, teachers are engaged as politically aware individuals who have a stake in teaching various individuals in a society. There is a strong emphasis on unity amongst participants around their social justice goals , the structure was organized through shared power between teachers and organizers, and their needs were centered using a practice of cultural synthesis.

The article offers a critique of the banking methods and traditionally used methods within APD and provides insight into how teachers can successfully be positioned as experts and be in control of their own social justice-oriented professional growth.

Using Paulo Freire’s method of critical pedagogue: anti-dialogical action, the attendees established themselves as the bestower of knowledge to the student “whom they consider knowing nothing”

However, with the rise of scripted PD’s (professional development) and prescribed curriculum, teachers are increasingly the passive recipients of technical training (Kohli,9) This raises the problem of having outside experts with little knowledge of local conditions who present irrelevant, useless information, focused more on compliance, begin advising teachers; with much of the current PD not involving teachers in the process of examining the issues faced by them or their students, nor their elicit professional expertise, interests or needs.

These programs are called anti-liberatory professional development or antidialogical professional development (APD) programs.

As a response to this, and the unmet needs of social justice minded teachers, CPD (critical professional development) programs begin to emerge, focusing on teaching politically aware individuals who have a key role in teaching.

With the findings of the experiment, much current PD’s provide teachers little say in their professional development. In contrast, CPD involves cooperation; teachers working together to create positive learning spaces that reflects the needs of students. This needs to be mediated through authenticated dialogue where the needs of the two parties are addressed; showing genuine acts of care or love. This coupled with acts of unity, will prevent against isolation. With various jobs and different people working on similar tasks it can help grow a learning community that satisfies the needs of parents, students and teachers as opposed to an environment that devalues creativity and critical thinking skills.

Implementing CPD programs will prepare educators to develop their critical conscience, teach with critical pedagogy and combat injustice and inequality in the school system. This will also challenge antidialogical action by merging problem posing teaching methods and critical content. CPD affects teachers beyond learning, it will push teachers to act as agents of change, pushing their professional discourse of using education as a vehicle for equity and justice.

Mahen Kariyakarawana

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy by T.C Howard

Culturally relevant pedagogy: T.C. Howard

The united states are currently enduring its largest influx of immigrants. Majority of these families have kids who compromise 1/3rd of the U.S school population. By 2050 this will rise to a whopping 57%, those kids being of African American, Asian American and Latino descent.

For teacher this will propose to be a challenge, as they will have to face the reality that students have cultural, ethnic, linguistic, racial and social class backgrounds that differ from their own. This will lead to a mix between a homogeneous teaching population ( white female, middle class) and an increasing heterogeneous ( students of color, low income ) population. Thus, teachers will have to “ reconceptualize the manner in which new teachers are prepared and provide them with skills and knowledge that will be best suited for effectively educating the diverse student population.” (Howard 195)

Race, ethnicity and culture need to be taken into consideration when understanding the learning experience. Teachers therefore need to shape their techniques around pedagogical practices that have relevance and are relatable to their social and cultural realties; critical teacher reflection and creating relevant teaching practices that in turn benefit the student

2 central ideas examine the relevance between the two subjects, the first being why race and culture are important concepts in teaching and learning.

“the color line continues to ring true even louder in the 21st century. A study of school achievement along racial lines underscores clear racial divisions about who is benefiting  from school and who is not.” (Howard 197) African American and Latino students continue to be the largest ethnic minority, however the academic underachievement of these students have been bad for decades (Howard 197)

The dropout rate for the two diverse groups has reached near 30% over the past 3 decades and has shown no sign of improvement , socially and emotionally these students have struggled to adjust to the school system

Throughout the years the group was composed of 28% of the nation’s public-school enrollment but have represented 50% of all students labelled mentally retarded, 40% as developmentally delayed, 37% as emotionally disturbed. Furthermore, these students are labeled as in need for rehabilitation and remedial education services, as the years pass by this number only just keeps increasing indefinitely.

This has led to the question, what if race and culture have to do with the widespread underachievement of nonmainstream students? Thus, the need to rethink pedagogical practices is critical if underachieving student populations are to have improved chances for school success.

Teachers need to realize that racially diverse students frequently bring cultural capital to the classroom that is different from most societal and cultural norms. Norms play a huge role on shaping learning, understanding and developing behavior. To reshape the means of how an educator can teach to the student will make the learning experience more meaningful.

The next important concept to grasp is critical reflection.  Reflection is a special form of problem solving, critical reflection therefore attempts to look at moral, political and ethical contexts of teaching. Reflective action can be a more useful tool for addressing social and emotional issues, namely those pertaining to race and culture. If students are treated competently they will ultimately demonstrate high degrees of competence, this paired with understanding ones standpoint and perspective will shape a student’s thinking and learning. This alone will raise a sense of mindfulness between the two parties.

This process, if executed properly will improve practice, help reform philosophies and will increase both efficiency and effectiveness between teacher and student, thus making learning more meaningful.  Being mindful of an individual’s circumstance will facilitate a positive growth, and be beneficial for teachers too, this will help them better understand the culture that encompasses their norm, and will be a driving factor in reshaping the foundations of education to fit the 21st century.

Mahen Kariyakarawana


The Importance of Minority Teachers by Cherng & Halpin

In the article, The Importance of Minority Teachers: Student perceptions of minority versus white teachers, the article was relatively easy to find once a website that had a pdf available was accessed. The first and probably most distracting thing I saw while reading was the amount of citations and references to other sources. While that is usually a sign of credibility and research, the hyperlinks in every other sentence was distracting to say the very least. The quality of the article, however was great. There are a lot of statistics and studies that truly delved into minority teachings and how minority students and minority teachers can affect the way information is taught and how comfortable students feel in the educational environment. Not only does the source explain the why’s and how’s of the superiority of minority teaching, but it does not invalidate the teachings of white teachers, more so, it exposes the evidence that minority teachers have more “multicultural awareness” and have either experienced or witnessed the limitations put on students based on ethnicity or race.

With this experience, minority teachers can avoid stereotyping and help the student based on learning preferences rather than their race.  The only other thing that made me feel uncertain about the accuracy of this article was that if it were being used for teaching in today’s classroom, many of the sources are from 2008 or prior, although in some cases, using data from that far back may help to demonstrate how we have either evolved or digressed over the decade of information. 


Kayla Cubillos

Chicana/ Latina Testimonios by Delgado, Burciaga & Flores

The format of the article, “Chicana/ Latina Testimonios” is extremely organized which helps to understand the article better. The introduction gives the reader insight as to what testimonios are and their significance to Latina/ Chicana culture. The introduction continues to explain how the significance is spreading throughout educational fields and what it means to have a testimonio in an educational field exposing flaws and how the genre is shifting along with the times.

The article then goes on to “Mapping the Testimonio Genre” which describes what testimonios are, the history behind testimonios and how it has been represented. Largely, testimonios have been for feminista’s and their papelitos guardados. Basically, papelitos guardados are protected papers used to document mentally and physically the transitions and roles faced by people, mainly women. Things like rape and what it means to be a woman in Latino countries are addressed in many testimonios.

Although it would make more sense for protected documents to be written down, some are shared orally, and some are written down and never shared, much like a diary. Such narratives are representative of the way culture and society and even the economy and politics have affected people. The purpose of a testimonio is to share experiences and work towards “solidarity” in hopes to reform and create a better society. I thought it was particularly interesting that when testimonios are being translated, everything needs to be said and interpreted with caution, since there are phrases in Spanish that may come across as an insult here.

There is a lot of trust and responsibility on both parts to accurately portray the testimonio. The educational testimonios do not come into play until the end of the article, which as an educator I may find better since reading the significance and origin of testimonios is important. Overall, the article was extremely informative and shed a lot of light over testimonios. Hope is necessary to create an impact, especially with education and the divide that is created through ignorance and racism. 


Kayla Cubillos