'Freddie Gray's Baltimore' Inspires College Course

The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law will be offering a unique class this fall: a course inspired by the events following the tragic death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. The class, entitled “Freddie Gray’s Baltimore: Past, Present, and Moving Forward,” will be offered to University of Maryland law and social work students.

According to the course description:

The course will examine the recent unrest itself and then examine the causes of, and possible solutions to, those dislocations, including an examination of problems in policing; criminal justice; housing; health care; education; poverty; and community development and joblessness.

Since the Baltimore riots in April, sparked by the city’s frustration following Freddie Gray’s murder, Baltimore has had a hard time recovering in those areas. This month, the city saw its 200th homicide a number the city didn’t see until December in 2014. Hopeful the course will pave a path to change, Maryland Carey Law Dean Donald B. Tobin described it as “an opportunity for our students to grapple with important issues in their backyard.”

The class will provide information about opportunities for students to volunteer in the Baltimore community to assist in the recovery of the aforementioned issues.

The eight-week course will analyze the difficulties the city has been struggling with since April. The syllabus, according to the Baltimore Sun, says the class will highlight:

The Details of the Unrest Itself; Policing and the Community

Housing: Public and Private Perpetuation of Residential Racial Segregation and Concentrated Poverty

Housing Segregation: Causes and Implications

Race and Policing (including racial profiling; stop and frisk; mass incarceration; and the criminalization of poverty.)

Employment and Economic Development

Education and the School to Prison Pipeline

Public Health and Access to Health Care (including addiction and substance abuse; mental health; HIV/AIDS; lead paint; and obstacles to good health care.)

Cycles of Violence (including domestic violence and abuse of children); Summation of Course and Moving Forward

Professor Michael Greenberger will teach the class and will be assisted by several other professors. Also named as a tentative teacher is Sherilynn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

By the end of the course, students will be required to turn in “a short paper (8-10 pages) in which each student will recommend a solution that would address social problems identified in the class,” according to the description.

The description goes on to say, “The course is not viewed by its organizers as an end in itself. Rather, it is intended to be a springboard for further student and faculty involvement in citizen and government efforts to reform law and policy in the subject matter areas listed above.”

The course is not expected to solve the community’s troubles. Instead, it will give Baltimore’s next generation firsthand experience with the issues the community is struggling with now. With volunteer opportunities as well as firsthand knowledge, perhaps these students will be equipped with the tools and information to make a difference in the Baltimore community and continue the quest to quell the city’s unrest.

“We want not only to educate our students but to inspire them to act on what they’ve learned and work with our neighbors in West Baltimore to strengthen our community and city,” Dean Tobin said in a press release.

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