By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– From “Hairspray” to “The Wire,” Baltimore’s history is steeped in politics and race.

A Johns Hopkins professor is putting the City’s history in perspective in a new book.

Matthew Crenson’s “Baltimore: a Political History” takes readers through a past that surprises. The book is drawn largely from City Archives.

“This is something that’s very important to me,” Crenson said.

Crenson describes a range of topics in the book.

“It’s an ordinance for preserving peace, preventing conflict and ill feeling between the white and colored races in Baltimore City,” he said. “By providing so far as practicable for the use of separate blocks by white and colored people for residences, churches and schools.”

“That was Baltimore’s general approach to the issue of race. They didn’t want to talk about it. And that was the case from the 1820’s to right up to much more recently.”

Crenson attributes many of the City’s quirks to urban under-development with whites and blacks competing for jobs and the city dominated by the General Assembly.

“Poverty is not new and neither is struggle. It’s been a struggle from the beginning,” he said.

The book goes on bookshelves Tuesday August 8, and Crenson will be signing copies from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Baltimore Archives.

Crenson is among the regular analysts providing insight on political issues on WJZ.

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