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Humanities in the Village: Gregory Smithsimon, “Liberty Road: Black Middle-Class Suburbs and the Battle Between Civil Rights and Neoliberalism” (March)

March 27 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Cover for Smithsimon's book, "Liberty Road."

We’re back for March’s Humanities in the Village event with Gregory Smithsimon (Brooklyn College, CUNY)—moderated by JHU’s Professor Lawrence Jackson—for a talk about Smithsimon’s new book, Liberty Road: Black Middle-Class Suburbs and the Battle Between Civil Rights and Neoliberalism (NYU Press, 2022). Join us at the Ivy Bookshop in Mt. Washington at 6:30pm (outdoors on their patio to celebrate the arrival of spring!).

ABOUT THE BOOK: “A unique insight into desegregation in the suburbs and how racial inequality persists.
“Half of Black Americans who live in the one hundred largest metropolitan areas are now living in suburbs, not cities. In Liberty Road, Gregory Smithsimon shows us how this happened, and why it matters, unearthing the hidden role that suburbs played in establishing the Black middle-class.
“Focusing on Liberty Road, a Black middle-class suburb of Baltimore, Smithsimon tells the remarkable story of how residents broke the color barrier, against all odds, in the face of racial discrimination, tensions with suburban whites and urban Blacks, and economic crises like the mortgage meltdown of 2008. Drawing on interviews, census data, and archival research he shows us the unique strategies that suburban Black residents in Liberty Road employed, creating a blueprint for other Black middle-class suburbs.
“Smithsimon re-orients our perspective on race relations in American life to consider the lived experiences and lessons of those who broke the color barrier in unexpected places. Liberty Road shows us that if we want to understand Black America in the twenty-first century, we must look not just to our cities, but to our suburbs as well.” (NYU Press)


Poster for Humanities in the Village with headshots for Greg Smithsimon and Larry Jackson, plus the book cover for "Liberty Road."

Gregory Smithsimon is professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His most recent book is Liberty Road: African American Middle-Class Suburbs and the Battle Between Civil Rights and Neoliberalism (NYU Press), a study of the achievements and challenges of African Americans moving to the suburbs of Baltimore. His other books include Cause: And How It Doesn’t Always Equal Effect and September 12: Community and Neighborhood Recovery at Ground Zero. He is an editor of the interdisciplinary urban journal Metropolitics, and has written for publications including the Village Voice, Dissent, the Wall Street Journal Online, and the Daily News. He grew up in Reisterstown and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Lawrence Jackson, Ph.D., is Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of English and History at the Johns Hopkins University and the author of the award-winning books Chester B. Himes: A Biography (W.W. Norton 2017), The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics (Princeton 2010), My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War (Chicago 2012) and Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius, 1913-1952 (Wiley 2002). His most recent books are Hold It Real Still: Clint Eastwood, Race, and the Cinema of the American West (Johns Hopkins University Press 2022) and Shelter: A Black Tale of Homeland, Baltimore (Graywolf Press 2022). He earned a Ph.D. in English and American literature at Stanford University, and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and the William J. Fulbright program. In addition to his writing and research, Jackson launched and now serves as director of the Billie Holiday Center for the Liberation Arts, an initiative that showcases and preserves the unique arts, history, and culture of Baltimore.



March 27
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
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The Ivy Bookshop (patio)
5928 Falls Road
Baltimore, MD 21209 United States
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