News Article

Revitalizing Upton: A beacon of hope for Baltimore’s future
February 21, 2024


By: Wanda Gibson Best

Upton, once a vibrant hub of African American culture and entrepreneurship in Baltimore, is experiencing a remarkable resurgence. Amid the challenges faced by urban communities, a wave of positive initiatives is breathing new life into this historic neighborhood. From honoring civil rights icons to fostering economic empowerment and community development, Upton is reclaiming its place as a beacon of hope and opportunity.

One of the cornerstones of this revitalization effort is the restoration of the Upton Mansion, soon to house the headquarters for The Afro-American Newspapers and its archives of over 100 years of African American history. This iconic institution serves as a testament to the rich heritage and legacy of African Americans in Baltimore, providing a platform for cultural expression and community engagement. Alongside it stands The (new) Justice Thurgood Marshall Amenity Center, honoring the trailblazing jurist whose legacy continues to inspire generations. The center is now housed in the recently refurbished P.S. 103 school once attended by Marshall.

Education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and empowering future generations. The Ed Reed Safe House, affiliated with Booker T. Middle School for the Arts, not only provides a safe haven for students but also fosters a nurturing environment for learning and personal growth.

Through initiatives like Upton’s homeownership campaign to combat displacement, close to 100 homes are being developed, offering families the opportunity to build generational wealth and stability.

The revitalization of former civil rights icon and attorney Juanita Jackson Mitchell’s old office as the home of the Juanita Mitchell Law Center, and the restoration of the former Mitchell Home, will serve as a lasting tribute to the indomitable spirit of civil rights activists who fought tirelessly for justice and equality. These institutions serve as a reminder of the enduring legacy of those who paved the way for progress.

Congressman Parren Mitchell’s legacy is being honored through the restoration of his former home, as a museum, event center and executive offices of the Upton Planning Committee. This serves as a testament to his tireless advocacy for marginalized communities and his commitment to social change.

The redevelopment of the Avenue Market and the return of the “Main Street Program,” has reconnected businesses on what was once considered “the spine of  Black economic development” in Baltimore and across the nation at the turn of the 19th century. The program is breathing new life into the commercial corridor, fostering economic growth and creating opportunities for local businesses. The establishment of a Black Arts District along the avenue further enriches the cultural landscape of the neighborhood, celebrating the creativity and resilience of its residents.

Public intergenerational programs and collaborations with community schools are nurturing the next generation of leaders and changemakers, ensuring that the legacy of Upton continues to thrive for years to come.

In Upton, we are witnessing the transformative power of community-driven initiatives and collective action. As we celebrate these milestones, we will remain committed to building a future where every resident can thrive and prosper. Together, we can continue to write the story of Upton’s resilience and renewal, inspiring hope and possibility for all of Baltimore.