Students get engaged in the discussion. Photo by Brent Bemiller.
The Mosaic is a group on campus whose goal is to show and promote the diversity of the culture around UMBC. The center hosted an event to highlight the city that many people at UMBC call home called The History of Black Baltimore, which presented the history explaining why Baltimore is the way it is today.
The session covered the entirety of Baltimore’s history from its foundation to today. It really hit on the formation of the city, the problems with redlining and segregation, and the recent protests and riots revolving around the death of Freddie Gray.
While the presenters, the Mosaic’s coordinator for diversity and inclusion Carlos Turcios and Mosaic ambassadors Idania Ramos and Sylvia Anokam, gave a lot of information, they also allowed for periods of discussion. These discussion sessions gave those in the audience the chance to share their opinions and experiences in Baltimore.
As people shared about the city they have experienced, it became clear that the event had a lot of perspective from inside Baltimore. People who had experienced poverty, gentrification and just how different two neighboring blocks can be, stepped up to share their thoughts on the city.
Baltimore tends to have a certain reputation around it, a fact that Turcios is very aware of. When asked about why he decided to make this event about the history of Baltimore, he said, “there’s a perception of Baltimore being negative. People in the community have to grow and delve into the history of the city to understand why it is like it is.”
Turcios also touched on the notion that the current state of Baltimore tends to be blamed on the people of the city. He disagrees with this, saying, “I was kind of sick and tired of the mentality that it’s the people’s fault. It’s been systemic,” and added, “it’s not because people stopped caring.”
The Mosaic hosted the event to show people that the reason Baltimore has been face to face with so many problems is primarily due to its history. They presented facts supporting that these problems are not a recent phenomenon but, in fact, have roots going back to the foundation of the city.
Those in attendance agreed with this and spoke of the historical implications, as well as the modern impact those implications have, during the discussion periods. Freshman information systems major Brent Bemiller, who was in attendance, said, “I thought it [the event] was a very insightful session that portrayed important historical data as well as discussion from multiple perspectives.”
The Mosaic will continue to host events like this one throughout the semester and the years to come in an effort to truly show the diversity and culture of UMBC and the city it calls home.