A Place Called Poppleton “Community in America”
In Fall 2023 we produced special edition of the A Place Called Poppleton zine (designed by Baltimore-born and Los Angeles-based artist Markele Cullins). We are sharing a walking tour brochure (designed by Baltimore artist Alexis Tyson) and an ArcGIS virtual walking tour designed by Tristan Diaz with research from American Studies students from spring 2021 to fall 2023. We debuted short films produced by Prof. Bill Shewbridge’s Media & Communication Studies students in 2023 at our final event at Allen A.M.E. Church in Poppleton on Tuesday, December 19, 2023.
In February 2020, the Eaddy family received a condemnation notice for their home, which had been in the family since 1992. In summer 2020, the Baltimore Traces: Communities in Transition project began documenting Poppleton’s long history of failed redevelopment and preserving the sense of place and community created by the Eaddy family and other residents, churches, and local businesses.
In 2021 and 2022, the work of cultural documentation—place-based research and oral history interviews—shifted from documenting the ongoing displacement of residents in Poppleton to organizing for change. Baltimore City has been taking Black people’s homes using eminent domain–the power of the state to take private property for public use–since 2004 for a misguided redevelopment project linked to the move of the University of Maryland BioPark into Poppleton and West Baltimore.
We organized to Save Our Block and to fight for equitable development in Baltimore. On July 18, 2022, Mayor Brandon Scott and Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy announced that the Eaddy family would keep their home and the Sarah Ann Street alley houses would be redeveloped for homeownership by Shelley Halstead of Black Women Build. This win was a new beginning (not an end) in the fight for equitable and community-led development in Poppleton and Baltimore.
With this zine, we present stories of residents and some of the community assets in Poppleton: 1) Sarah Ann Street Local Historic District 2) St. Luke’s Youth Center 3) the Southwest Sports and Fitness Alliance and the Poppleton Rec Center 4) Excel Academy and 5) Allen A.M.E. Church.
Poppleton Walking Tour:
Final Brochure – Poppleton (click to download)
Watch the oral history interviews for A Place Called Poppleton (fall 2023):
We thank Sonia Eaddy and the Poppleton Now Community Association members for inviting us into their neighborhood. And thanks to Allen A.M.E. Church and Pastor Brenda White (UMBC alumna) for hosting us for this community celebration. A special thanks to all the people we interviewed this semester: Diane Bell, TyJuan Hawkins, Francina and Sterling Walker, Pat Nickerson, Anthony Hudgins II (Executive Director, Southwest Sports and Fitness Alliance, Inc.) and the legacy members of Allen A.M.E. Church–Odell and Gay Jones, Betty Jean Singletary, Shirley Luallen, and Charlene McClain Boykin.