In 1936, the City of Atlanta was the first US city to open federally-financed and locally-administered public housing developments to low-income families in need of safe and sanitary housing (Techwood Homes). For the city’s Black residents, and later, other marginalized groups, these developments provided political opportunity to assemble, mobilize, and make claims on the State in ways that were otherwise inaccessible. Over time, tenant associations served as conduits for working-class political interests centered in spatial justice – the very politics of planning that were used to segregate and marginalize developments and residents served as an organizing logic around spatial justice issues. However, in 2013, demolition began on one of the city’s last public housing developments for low-income families, nearly two decades after Techwood Homes was demolished for the 1996 Olympics. This talk examines the historical role of public housing in working-class politics and how the loss of tenant associations in the city has deepened contemporary inequities.
About the speaker
Akira Drake Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. Her research examines the ways that disenfranchised groups re-appropriate their marginalized spaces in the city to gain access to and sustain urban political power. She is the author of Diverging Space for Deviants: The Politics of Atlanta’s Public Housing, which explores how the politics of public housing planning and race in Atlanta created a politics of resistance within its public housing developments. Dr. Rodriguez was recently awarded a Spencer Foundation grant to study how educational advocates mobilize around school facility planning processes.
Although research has shown that court-ordered hiring quotas increase the number of minority police officers in litigated cities, there has been little insight into how workforce diversity, or lack thereof, may impact police violence. Using an event-study framework, we find that the threat of affirmative action litigation reduces police killings of both non-white and white civilians in the long-run. In addition, we find evidence of lower arrest rates for non-white civilians and more diverse police departments 25 years after litigation. Our results highlight the vital role that legal and federal interventions have in addressing police behavior and the use of lethal force.
About the speaker:
Dr. Jamein P. Cunningham is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. His research agenda currently consists of four broad overarching themes focusing on the intersectionality of institutional discrimination, access to social justice, crime and criminal justice, and race and economic inequality.
Dr. Cunningham held previous positions as an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at the University of Memphis and at Portland State University, where he taught urban economics, econometrics, labor economics, and economics of discrimination. Prior to joining the faculty at Portland State University, Dr. Cunningham was a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics and a Populations Studies Center Graduate Trainee at the University of Michigan. He was a recipient of the Rackham Merit Fellowship and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute in Child Health and Development Fellowship. Before obtaining a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, he completed his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University and a Master’s in Economics at the University of North Texas.
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.