By Bill Curtis

In Baltimore, MD or Any City, USA, what happens when there is Not a doctrine of community development, or community economic self-determination, or a doctrine of “Let’s dammit make job opportunities and training happen like dammit right Now” for those, as Mr. Neely Fuller would say, with the greatest need. 

Absolutely nothing happens. Like five years after Freddie Gray’s death.

Freddie’s death exposed Baltimore—its dysfunctional anti-poor and anti-Black development practices. I dare say the last time Baltimore had mayors who implemented a “policy” that attempted to meet Black community needs at the grassroots level were Mayor Kirk Schmoke and Mayor Shelia Dixon. I’ll even include the great Mayor William Donald Schafer who went on to be governor of Maryland.

(Photo by Alexander Lukatskiy/Shutterstock)

After the tenures of Mayor Schmoke and Mayor Dixon, Baltimore’s planning strategies moved at warp-speed into high-end  economic housing gentrification and the removal of average and low income Black and White citizens in the east, west, south, southwest and southeast sections of the city.

Baltimore’s elephant in the room – crime and violence that germinates from poverty – grows because Baltimore cannot raise its hand and swear to a policy that develops the young people of the City. 

Mainline Black leaders – elected officials, preacher class, professional non-profits and others claiming to be the voice of the community – show an absence of imagination and courage to organize Black youth in a serious manner as Dr. Maulana Karenga would say.

Policy, not posturing, dictates actions that demand math competency, reading-at-level skills and cultural awareness so that those amazing Black youth can compete and win against anyone in the world. Not just sports.

Policy must unabashedly trust the competence and courage of grassroots organizations. Find them. Fund them. Assign them an accountant and a technical coach. The future of Baltimore and Any City, USA is in its Black young people.

Bill Curtis, who worked in local government for 28 years, lives and writes in Baltimore, MD.

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