Lucille Gorham Fellow

VOLAR initiated a community fellow position as part of its community organizing and community development work in East Baltimore. The fellowship is named in honor of Ms. Lucille Gorham, an organizer and displaced Middle East resident. She strategized and organized with her neighbors to resist uneven development and mass displacement. Dominic T. Moulden, who was born and raised in Perkins Homes and Johnston Square, became our inaugural Gorham fellow in 2020. Read more about his invaluable contributions below.

2021 Lucille Gorham Fellowship Report to the People

 

Ms. Lucille Gorham (1931-2012)

 

Ms. Gorham moved to Baltimore from North Carolina and lived on Bond Street in East Baltimore. She attended city public schools, earned a GED and studied at Sojourner Douglass College. Ms. Gorham became a longtime activist and leader in the community during the race riots in the 1960s. She was the first president of Citizens for Fair Housing in 1968 and continued to lead various organizations including: Our House, Madison Square Housing Association, Middle East CDC, Middle East Community Organization, 4h Club. Ms. Gorham's unflinchingly advocated for affordable and fair housing, equitable education and training for youth, and challenging the uneven development that continuously happened in her beloved East Baltimore community and beyond. She mentored many and always reminded us that listening and calmly stating our position was important in negotiations.

 

This Lucille Gorham Fellowship report outlines the collective and cooperation work of CTC members, general members, support from community members, and the Gorham fellow. We organize, work, and build as a collective and this report reflects the work of our beloved VOLAR community.

 

Marisela Gomez is the accountability partner for the fellow. The shared work and accountability structure is supported by weekly and bi-weekly accountability sessions with Marisela, which cover challenges, successes, and areas of growth and transformation for Ms. Gomez and the fellow.

 

Base Building Committee

- working with CTC members to recruit, orient, and develop organizing and leadership skills of historic and legacy East Baltimore residents

- organizing outreach days in East Baltimore communities with CTC members and general membership

- supported Ensor Street organizing committee and general membership on public green space and petition signatures to acquire public land

- trained general members in outreach skills and 1-on-1 conversations with the community-at-large

 

Building and Acquisition Committee

- working with Fundraising Committee to secure resources to purchase Centennial Church

- provided occasional support on grant proposals and individual donors giving

- provided support on 2019 Black August appeal

 

Radical Organizing School Committee

- led CTC political education training on base building and grassroots leadership

- organized with Uneven Development sessions with CTC members

 

Community Investment Trust Committee

- recruiting members for the VOLAR B Corporation

- attend monthly CIT team meetings on VOLAR CIT model

- regular participation in bi-weekly CIT meetings

 

Cooperative Living Committee

- attend monthly committee meetings

- supported drafting of committee's strategic areas with CTC members

- researched cooperative living communities

 

Closing Reflections

 

I personally learned that the VOLAR Collective organizing work connects to the hope and joy that exists in the Latrobe and Oldtown communities. Even though life is tough, we believe that another way to live in a healthy community is possible. I am excited about the skills building and consistent outreach VOLAR members are doing with residents in Latrobe, Monument East, and Oldtown. Simply walking together, sitting on steps, and knocking on doors builds relationships slowly with the people who will lead VOLAR in the future. I also realized during the past year that VOLAR's model of healing trauma and challenging Baltimore's historic and ongoing uneven development with compassionate love and resistance is a wise path to take in dealing with structural racism and economic inequity. 

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