Cherry Hill: Raising Successful Black Children in Jim Crow Baltimore
Content: Before Opie lived in Mayberry, Beaver and Wally in Mayfield, and Betty, Bud and Kathy in Springfield, there were thousands of little Black children experiencing the same quality of life in Cherry Hill, a post WWII planned suburban community containing a public housing project on a southeastern peninsula of Baltimore City. These children had a sense of being loved, being free, being safe, and above all, having the space they needed to stretch out and enjoy small town living. They could play all day with their friends, skate and ride their bikes all over town, and chase the ice cream man's truck, with the admonishment to be home by the time the streetlights came on. The author was one of those children, and she rallied sixty or so of her Cherry Hill contemporaries to share what life was like for them in what they know to be a special place and time.
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This book is a must read for people who want to learn how racism impacted the lives of black
Baltimoreans in the mid-20th century. It allows the reader to walk in the shoes of the first generation of Cherry Hill children as they enjoy growing up in this unique community. Ironically, they grew up pretty much oblivious to the racism that dictated that they live in this first planned community built by the Federal Government for African Americans. They had all the amenities of white planned communities--including new schools, a shopping center with a movie theater, a swimming pool. They never really had to leave their community until they had to go to high school. Cherry Hill's innocence ends in the early 1960's when a woman who is a Cherry Hill resident dies at the hands of a Southern Marylander. She was immortalized in Bob Dylan's song, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." This is a great read to gain a personalized perspective of how a community navigated the confines of segregation to raise children who grew up to lead very stable and successful lives.