Three years ago, the idea to incorporate a walking tour of Baltimore during Critical Social Justice week came into fruition. Since its implementation, it has been an integral part of CSJ. You may be asking yourself: “Why it is important to include a walking tour of Baltimore? How could walking through Baltimore possibly have anything to do with Critical Social Justice? These are both great questions to ask, and so to give a thorough answer, I met with Baltimore implant, history enthusiast, and walking tour guide… Dr. Kate Drabinski.
In talking to Dr. Kate, I was made aware of the fact that not all UMBC students are familiar with the city of Baltimore outside of Camden Yards or the Aquarium. Dr. Kate expressed to me that “In order to fully understand and comprehend the complexities that the city of Baltimore represents, it is important to physically experience it.” The walking tour is only one (of many) ways in which we as a community can bring UMBC to Baltimore.
Baltimore is a city that has been recently been the object of many news stories because of the politicized and highly publicized experiences of violence and police brutality. This has most recently been seen during the unrest that occurred after the death of Freddie Gray. There is an upcoming HBO special set to air November 20 that is centered on the years of economic disenfranchisement as seen through the eyes of activists, journalists, and community residents to better tell their stories in hopes to be understood.
The systematic racism and segregationist efforts in Baltimore began in the early 1900’s and continue to occur today. The walking tour helps to “enable students to broaden their view” of Baltimore outside of the classroom and to give a first-hand account of where and how history shaped the city.Dr. Kate plans on bringing the walking tour to Pratt Street, which holds an immeasurable amount of history. She does this in order to shed some light on the “depth of conflict that has occurred on Pratt Street.” By bringing students to an actual location in which uprisings have occurred and wars have been fought, she hopes to broaden students view and help them to learn to “pay attention to the space that they occupy so that they can see the world differently in order to advance their understanding of their environment.” She also hopes to show the different lenses of the historical perspective of how the city was built, who it was built by, and ultimately, who was it built for. By offering these alternate lenses, Dr. Kate aims to show how spaces are “built towards and away from social justice.”
Following the walking tour, Charm City Connection is hosting an event to link UMBC students to organizations that do work in the Baltimore community. Check out the flyer here! This is a great way to extend your knowledge of the city and the many opportunities and resources that are available to help serve our local community and to help better the city.