Cultivating Social Justice Work in West Baltimore

On the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s death, Executive Producer Eddie Conway reports from West Baltimore where community organizers and political activists gathered to cultivate land for a community garden.

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Story Transcript

EDDIE CONWAY: I’m Eddie Conway, coming to you from Baltimore, for The Real News.

I’m down in the Gilmor Homes area. The day is February 21st, and in commemoration of the assassination of Malcolm X, we established a community center one block up, in the Tubman house. And we established with that center, a farm area, which we use to teach the children in the Gilmore Homes area, how to farm, and pay them a stipend.

And so, today on the first anniversary of the Tubman House, we decided to expand our farm area, and so now we’re here at Tubman house lot two, to prepare the ground for spring planting. And I have here with me now one of the workers, and one of the volunteers, and one of the one of the farmers.

GERRARD DENT: ‘Cause there’s work that need to be done, and I can’t think of a better way to give back after my so-called, destruction in the neighborhood, but to get down and dirty. What I call boots on the ground, and what wake up that… We save some children, we’ve got a large community, it’s, and to set a positive example.

EDDIE CONWAY: How long have you been doing this work?

GERRARD DENT: I’ve been doing this work, on the free side of town, which means I was locked up 40 years. Two years ago, but since I’ve been free, I’ve been doing it. I hit the ground running. I come out August 2015, and August ’17 I been doing it for almost two years now.

DOMINIQUE STEVENSON: We thought it was important to name everything that we do, to name it after important people in our history. So, we called this “The Sundiata Acoli, Fannie Lou Hamer, Farm.” We’ve had that name for the farm even before it was here, because we were farming in another area. But we want people to recognize our political prisoners; we want them to recognize important women in our history.

TIFFANY DAFOE: I’ve been coming to Tubman House since it was established. I’ve been coming to the community events, the cookouts, and enjoyed being here and meeting the folks who live in the area. So, when I heard about a volunteer day, I came down.

EDDIE CONWAY: So far, what do you think of the project?

TIFFANY DAFOE: I think it’s an amazing project. Yeah, like I said, I was lucky enough to be there at the announcement for the first day of Tubman House. And, you know, I’m friends of a number of the people involved with it. I think it’s a tremendously exciting community project. I’ve been excited to see people from the neighborhood, and folks from outside, come together to bring gardens, and classes for children, and a community center to this area.

EDDIE CONWAY: I know you don’t like to be on camera, but this is very important work. You founded this project, and I would like for you to share with the public why you founded it, and how it’s been progressing.

DOMINIQUE STEVENSON: It’s been going really well. One, I founded it because we need to learn how to push back. Governor Hogan wants to demolish a significant amount of West Baltimore. I live in West Baltimore. West Baltimore is important, in terms of the foundation of this city. So, I think that that was part of it, that push back.

But also we need to create projects. We need food. Young people need somewhere to go. We need employment. We need, you know, a vision for our community. The government’s not going to do it for us, and so, we decided we’re going to do it.

MALCOM X: If you going to jail for what? If you’re black, you were born in jail!

CROWD: (applause)

MALCOM X: If you’re black, you were born in jail. In the North as well as the South. Stop talking about the South. Long as you south of the Canadian border, you’re south.

CROWD: (reacting)

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