Marronage and Philadelphia’s Housing Justice Fight

Sterling Johnson

Published in Issue 4.1 // Updates

Keywords: Encampment, social movements, housing struggle, Philadelphia, squatting


This update focuses on the ongoing work of Philadelphia Housing Action and how the group has maintained a politics of marronage in their organizing with homeless residents and in encampments during the Covid-19 pandemic. The group is comprised of a group of Black, white, Indigenous, Asian, Queer, Cis and Trans, poor, undocumented, working class, drug users, sex workers, formerly incarcerated, chronically ill, and disabled and deformed people who came together to make their place in Philadelphia’s Center City through protests, housing reclamation, and relationship building.

Sterling Johnson researches in the areas of Black geographies, anti-colonialism, feminist geography, carceral and abolition geographies. Their research is concerned with laws and morality and issues of social justice and liberation. Since 2012, Sterling has been an activist and advocate for housing and harm reduction focusing on the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region (Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C.). They have a law degree from the University of California Hastings College of Law (San Francisco), a Masters in Geography from George Washington University (Washington D.C.) and are currently a PhD student in Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University.

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