Jessica: Oral Histories in Baltimore

This week’s reading, Introduction to Public History: Interpreting the Past, Engaging Audiences by Lyon, Nix, and Shrum used the parallel disturbances in Baltimore in 1968 and 2015 to discuss the importance and purpose of oral histories. This particularly interested me, because my family is from Baltimore, and my dad was a child during the ’68 riots. While talking to him about this, he said that he lived about a half mile outside of the Baltimore city line, so he could hear sirens and other noises. The interview that I picked ( shows a perspective from within the center of the action. Freda Halderon lived in the ghetto in East Baltimore with her husband and five kids. As a black family in the city, they were surrounded and directly impacted by the violence. Halderon recounted what her impression of the damage and injuries were in her area. She focused on the widespread injury and death, at first stating that the news said that at least 700 people were hurt or died. However, the interviewer had learned that in Baltimore, six people died and 70-100 were hurt. After further questions, it turns out that 700 was probably the number of people nationwide hurt in protests and riots. The fact that Halderon remembered the largest number shows that her impression was of widespread affects. Also, she connects the events in Baltimore with the events in the rest of the country, and doesn’t forget that people all over the United States were affected by the death of Martin Luther King Jr.

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