Schaefer and middle-class flight — by whites and blacks

John Fritze and Jill Rosen are to be commended for their depiction of Baltimore before, during and after the Schaefer era ("the city Schaefer leaves behind," April 24).

Their description of "White flight, black flight" is 100 percent accurate on the facts. Omitted, however, is the cause and effect. The first blacks to move into white areas were the equivalent of the first whites to leave — top notch citizens one could be proud to have as neighbors.

Then came the demolition of 99 percent of the black neighborhoods around Johns Hopkins to make way for redevelopment, and a second wave of migrants who, thanks to greedy banks and the federal government's policy of granting mortgages regardless of people's ability to repay. So while the early "white flight" can be traced to racist bigotry, the "black flight" of middle-class African-Americans was the result of the slow economic collapse of those communities.

What is needed now is another Schaefer to turn things around. This will be the biggest challenge for the whoever is elected in 2011.

Richard L. Lelonek, Baltimore

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