Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Ian Barnard

Second Advisor

Dr. Renee Hudson

Third Advisor

Dr. Joanna Levin


In 2015, Baltimore city erupted after the death of Freddie Carlos Gray. He was a 25-year-old who was forcibly placed into the back of a police van and after riding in the van, sustained several injuries that resulted in his death. After the video footage was shown to the public, a tension bubbled in the air that cause what seemed like weeklong protests and riots. The event is now referred to as the “Baltimore Uprising.” When he died, it was like a portion of each of us died. It was another narrative added to the cultural collective of Black faces killed by police violence. I was a year from graduating undergrad when Freddie Gray was killed. I remember distinctly, the feeling in the air There was a thickness. A sense of doom lurked in the air. This feeling has stayed with me for years after his death. The thickness, the heaviness of his death and the causes behind it are what interest me. The relationship between Black people in America and police has been tumultuous, gruesome, and counterproductive to progress of communities. Black identity and the Black body have been controversial since the creation of this identity. Blackness, identity, and policing and their connectedness is the reason behind this thesis. The relationship between Black identity and the continued attack on the presence of Blackness in America is a catalyst for this thesis, in which I explore the complexities and beauty of identity through an examination of the life and death of Freddie Gray. I explore how identity is linked throughout communities and the influence it has on both people and history. This thesis is important for me because of my identity. I am a Black woman from West Baltimore who grow up witnessing and experiencing Black Baltimore. To fully analyze my identity, the uprising, and its relation to the city, I collected sources from scholarly texts and conducted interviews from organizers and protestors who were present during the uprising, alongside my own perspective, and I use these varied sources to show how Freddie Gray’s life and death are emblematic of Black American identity.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 01, 2024