This talk examines the effects of mid-20th century urban redevelopment projects on Detroit’s black business community. Urban renewal in Detroit disproportionately affected African Americans, so much so that black Detroiters often referred to urban renewal as “Negro Removal.” Non-whites made up 98 percent of the families living in some urban renewal locations. Most scholarship on urban renewal focuses on housing and residential displacement, yet, in some ways, black business owners were more adversely affected by urban planning initiatives than residential renters and homeowners.
About Kendra Boyd, Ph.D.:
Kendra Boyd is an Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey. She is a scholar of African American history, focusing on black entrepreneurship, racial capitalism, migration, and urban history. Her article “A ‘Body of Business Makers’: The Detroit Housewives League, Black Women Entrepreneurs, and the Rise of Detroit’s African American Business Community” (Enterprise & Society) won the 2021 Letitia Woods Brown Article Prize from the Association of Black Women Historians. Dr. Boyd also co-edited (with Deborah Gray White and Marisa J. Fuentes) Scarlet and Black, Volume 2: Constructing Race and Gender at Rutgers, 1865-1945, (Rutgers University Press, 2020). Currently, she is writing a book on black entrepreneurship in Great Migration era Detroit, Michigan.
From the crises of racial inequity and capitalism that inspired the Black Lives Matter movement and the Green New Deal to the coronavirus pandemic, stories of mutual aid have shown that, though cooperation is variegated and ever-changing, it is also a form of economic solidarity that can help weather contemporary social and economic crises. Addressing this theme, Practicing Cooperation delivers a trenchant and timely argument that the way to a more just and equitable society lies in the widespread adoption of cooperative practices. But what renders cooperation ethical, effective, and sustainable? Providing a new conceptual framework for cooperation as a form of social practice, Practicing Cooperation describes and critiques three U.S.-based cooperatives. Through these case studies, Andrew Zitcer illuminates the range of activities that make contemporary cooperatives successful: dedicated practitioners, a commitment to inclusion, and ongoing critical reflection. He asserts that economic and social cooperation must be examined, critiqued, and implemented on multiple scales if it is to combat the pervasiveness of competitive individualism.
About Andrew Zitcer:
Andrew Zitcer is an associate professor at Drexel University, where he directs the Urban Strategy graduate program. His research explores social and economic cooperation, as well as arts as a tool for urban revitalization. Zitcer’s work has been published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, Planning Theory & Practice, Journal of Urban Affairs, and Antipode. He lives in West Philadelphia, where he is active in a number of community-based initiatives.
“Bandos, Symbolism, and Placemaking in Camden, NJ”
Thursday, March 25, 2021 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
In her forthcoming book Toward Camden, Mercy Romero writes about the relationships that make and sustain the largely African American and Puerto Rican Cramer Hill neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey where she grew up. She walks the city and writes outdoors to think about the collapse and transformation of property. She revisits lost and empty houses—her family’s house, the Walt Whitman House, and the landscape of a vacant lot. Throughout, Romero engages with the aesthetics of fragment and ruin; her writing juts against idioms of redevelopment. She resists narratives of the city that are inextricable from crime and decline and witnesses everyday lives lived at the intersection of spatial and Puerto Rican diasporic memory.
Toward Camden travels between what official reports say and what the city’s vacant lots withhold. In this virtual roundtable, Mercy Romero, Ph.D. was joined by Vedra Chandler, Rev. PJ Craig, and Sis. Anetha Ann Perry to talk about landscape, dispossession, and the making of public memory in Camden, New Jersey.
Mercy Romero, Ph.D. Associate Professor of American Literature and American Studies, Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, Sonoma State University, CA Author of Toward Camden (Black Outdoors: Innovations in the Poetics of Study). Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press (release date 10/15/21).
Rev. PJ Craig Sr. Pastor, Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Germantown, TN Ph.D. candidate in Public Affairs at Rutgers–Camden. PJ’s work focuses on youth connections with place. In her current project, she worked alongside youth as co-researchers in North Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ to understand how youth shape stories about their neighborhoods and themselves.
Vedra Chandler (pronouns: she/her) Project Manager, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. Born and raised in Camden, Vedra Chandler graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government before pursuing a careers in business, music and now community development and creative placemaking. Since 2017 Vedra has worked as a project manager at Cooper’s Ferry Partnership where she uses the arts as a vehicle to tap into the potential of Camden city and its residents. She coordinates the Connect the Lots and A New View initiatives which revitalize underutilized spaces with vibrant programming and public art.
Moderator: Sis. Anetha Ann Perry Ph.D. candidate in Public Affairs at Rutgers–Camden. Sis. Anetha Ann Perry grew up in Camden. In her dissertation research she uses auto-ethnography to tell the story of her family’s home, Perry House, and investigates the uses of “good neighboring” as an African American survival strategy. Despite evolving societal dynamics, Anetha’s study purports to show how settlement houses such as Perry House practice “good neighboring” as part of a modern-day underground railroad support system to African Americans living in urban fragmented communities.
“After 2020 – A New Beginning for Political Activism and Civic Engagement?”
Thursday, March 4, 2021 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
The past few years have been a period of dramatic and consequential political change, on a local as well as a national level. Many first-time candidates for federal, state, or municipal offices spectacularly defeated their establishment-supported opponents; many communities across the U.S. experienced record-high voter turnouts in the November election; and the increased participation of Black and Latino voters had a decisive influence on election outcomes in many states and legislative districts.
New vehicles for promoting political activism, such as Indivisible and the Working Families Party became more influential at the same time as new initiatives designed to reduce voter participation were introduced in legislatures across the country.
What can be learned from the political turmoil of the past years about the prospects for creating a better informed, more fully engaged electorate in the future? In a roundtable conversation, John Kromer, Lorraine Minnite, and Shauna Shames will discussed their research on voting trends, electoral rules, and the influence of gender, race, and ethnicity on political candidacies and election outcomes, with particular reference to urban communities. They were joined by Rutgers-Camden undergraduate students Oriana Holmes-Price, Political Science major, Adrian Rentas, Urban Studies and Community Development major, and Jose Zarazua, Political Science major.
John Kromer is the author of Philadelphia Battlefields: Disruptive Campaigns and Upset Elections in a Changing City (Temple University Press, 2020), has participated in many local political campaigns as a volunteer, election worker, and candidate. He served as Philadelphia housing director during the mayoral administration of Edward G. Rendell (1992-2001) and as interim executive director of the Camden Redevelopment Agency during the state-administered Camden receivership (2006-07). He teaches a fall-semester class in The Politics of Housing and Urban Development at the University of Pennsylvania.
Lorraine C. Minnite is an Associate Professor of Public Policy in The Department of Public Policy and Administration at Rutgers-Camden. Her research focuses on issues of inequality, social and racial justice, political conflict, and institutional change.Dr. Minnite is the author and co-author of two books on electoral rules and racial and class politics in the U.S., as well as other published work addressing various aspects of political participation, immigration, voting behavior and urban politics.
Shauna Shames is an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department of Rutgers-Camden. Her primary area of academic interest is American political behavior, with a focus on race, gender, and politics. Dr. Shames has published articles, reports, and book chapters on women as candidates, black women in Congress, comparative child care policy, work/family conflict, abortion, feminism in the U.S. and internationally, gay and lesbian rights, and U.S. public opinion.She has designed and taught courses on race, class, gender, American politics, women’s studies, the history of feminism, freshman writing, and futuristic fiction and has lectured widely on gender, race, and politics.
“Community-based approaches to creating sustainable affordable housing”
Thursday, January 28th 12:30pm – 1:30pm via Zoom.
This virtual roundtable we discussed housing cooperatives, community land trusts, and shared equity housing models as viable alternative approaches to creating sustainable affordable housing and building community wealth. Non-market strategies have proliferated over recent years as many lower-income communities, especially in “hot” real estate markets like NYC, experience rising housing cost, fewer affordable housing options, and long-term housing insecurity. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a brighter light on the chronic and dire state of housing insecurity in the US as millions of lower-income households are facing evictions and potential homelessness. In this virtual roundtable, our panelists shared their insights on the processes of creating affordable housing collectives, and discussed the role of public policy, community organizing, and housing advocacy in the quest for fair housing.
Judy Meima works with tenant groups and cooperatives as an independent consultant. She previously worked at the D.C. nonprofit Mi Casa Inc. and served as the manager of the organization’s TOPA program. In a recently published article in Shelterforce, she shares lessons from 20 years of enabling tenants to buy their buildings.
Ruoniu (Vince) Wang is research manager at Grounded Solutions where he focuses on evaluating affordable housing policies and programs, geography of inequality, and residential mobility. He has recently co-authored a report with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy that presents the most comprehensive study of shared equity housing programs conducted to date.