Voices of Baltimore natpkg_00013427.jpg
Voices of Baltimore natpkg_00013427.jpg
Now playing
03:55
Baltimore's racial and economic disparities
freddie gray mistrial protest vo hostin nr_00000512.jpg
freddie gray mistrial protest vo hostin nr_00000512.jpg
Now playing
00:53
Tensions flare following Freddie Gray mistrial
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 02:  A new mural is seen in the Gilmor Homes May 2, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to Gray's attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody.  State attorney Marilyn Mosby of Maryland announced that charges would be brought against the six police officers who arrested Gray.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 02: A new mural is seen in the Gilmor Homes May 2, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to Gray's attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. State attorney Marilyn Mosby of Maryland announced that charges would be brought against the six police officers who arrested Gray. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:45
Did Freddie Gray have a knife on him before his arrest?
Freddie Gray arrest Baltimore
WJZ
Freddie Gray arrest Baltimore
Now playing
01:59
Officers cleared in Freddie Gray's death
Members of the National Guard board a truck at an armory staging area Sunday, May 3, 2015, in Baltimore. after Baltimore's mayor lifted a citywide curfew.
David Goldman/AP
Members of the National Guard board a truck at an armory staging area Sunday, May 3, 2015, in Baltimore. after Baltimore's mayor lifted a citywide curfew.
Now playing
01:42
Baltimore mayor lifts curfew
People attend a rally lead by faith leaders in front of Baltimore's city hall calling for justice in response to the death of Freddie Gray on Sunday May 3.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
People attend a rally lead by faith leaders in front of Baltimore's city hall calling for justice in response to the death of Freddie Gray on Sunday May 3.
Now playing
02:23
'You can protest, but keep the peace'
segment harlow blake baltimore lord flies_00003123.jpg
segment harlow blake baltimore lord flies_00003123.jpg
Now playing
04:35
'Lord of the Flies' comes to Baltimore
A Baltimore police officer confronts CNN's Miguel Marquez over where the media can stand during curfew.
A Baltimore police officer confronts CNN's Miguel Marquez over where the media can stand during curfew.
Now playing
02:52
Baltimore police officer confronts CNN reporter
ctn bts baltimore protester arrests_00001206.jpg
ctn bts baltimore protester arrests_00001206.jpg
Now playing
02:17
Baltimore curfew goes into effect, protesters arrested
Now playing
01:54
Hear emotional reactions in streets of Baltimore
Now playing
02:48
Police arrest Baltimore protester after curfew
ctn live cuomo baltimore joseph kent arrested _00001607.jpg
ctn live cuomo baltimore joseph kent arrested _00001607.jpg
Now playing
02:23
Peaceful protester speaks out after arrest on live TV
ac philadelphia protester speaks out_00022909.jpg
ac philadelphia protester speaks out_00022909.jpg
Now playing
03:24
Philadelphia protester: Police have no integrity here
ac harlow protesters clash with police in philadelphia _00000000.jpg
ac harlow protesters clash with police in philadelphia _00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:11
Philadelphia protesters clash with police
Now playing
02:48
Rev. Bryant: 'Feel like we're in a concentration camp'
nr young intv ray lewis_00003930.jpg
nr young intv ray lewis_00003930.jpg
Now playing
01:34
Ray Lewis: Now that you have a voice, keep voicing it
A man stands in front of a line of police officers in riot gear as part of a community effort to disperse the crowd ahead of a 10 p.m. curfew in the wake of Monday's riots following the funeral for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
david goldman/ap
A man stands in front of a line of police officers in riot gear as part of a community effort to disperse the crowd ahead of a 10 p.m. curfew in the wake of Monday's riots following the funeral for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Now playing
01:30
Baltimore mayor: Curfew could end early
ctn live cuomo baltimore joseph kent arrested _00001607.jpg
ctn live cuomo baltimore joseph kent arrested _00001607.jpg
Now playing
03:33
Attorney justifies Joseph Kent breaking curfew
ac intv robert valentine freddie gray message baltimore_00002528.jpg
ac intv robert valentine freddie gray message baltimore_00002528.jpg
Now playing
03:20
Baltimore peacekeeper: Keep the message on Freddie Gray
tsr lemon dnt police citizen mistrust baltimore_00012405.jpg
tsr lemon dnt police citizen mistrust baltimore_00012405.jpg
Now playing
01:50
Tension in Baltimore: A problem 'years in the making'
ac field new york city protest arrest_00000103.jpg
ac field new york city protest arrest_00000103.jpg
Now playing
01:43
Arrest made during New York City protest
valerie jarrett baltimore protests origwx bw_00005126.jpg
valerie jarrett baltimore protests origwx bw_00005126.jpg
Now playing
01:29
Valerie Jarrett responds to Baltimore protests
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03:  Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on against the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03: Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on against the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:57
Ray Lewis to protesters: 'Go home'
erin live field nyc protesters arrested freddie gray _00012011.jpg
erin live field nyc protesters arrested freddie gray _00012011.jpg
Now playing
04:05
NYC police arrest protesters on live TV
Thousands gather in the streets of Baltimore in a peaceful march and protest.
Thousands gather in the streets of Baltimore in a peaceful march and protest.
Now playing
02:43
Peaceful march through streets of Baltimore
newday bts elijah cummings baltimore protest youth_00003618.jpg
newday bts elijah cummings baltimore protest youth_00003618.jpg
Now playing
01:43
Rep. Cummings: Baltimore can happen anywhere
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Now playing
02:10
2016 candidates on Baltimore
Getty Images
Now playing
01:00
Pastor: Gangs and clergy unite in Baltimore
ctn live cuomo baltimore joseph kent arrested _00001607.jpg
ctn live cuomo baltimore joseph kent arrested _00001607.jpg
Now playing
01:38
Joseph Kent arrested by police in Baltimore
Now playing
03:34
Councilman: Adults need to lead their children
ac intv pastor donte hickman sr baltimore rebuilding_00002010.jpg
ac intv pastor donte hickman sr baltimore rebuilding_00002010.jpg
Now playing
04:20
Pastor: Our young people don't see hope
ctn sot carroll curfew baltimore riots police_00003618.jpg
WJLA
ctn sot carroll curfew baltimore riots police_00003618.jpg
Now playing
01:10
Baltimore police enforcing curfew
Now playing
01:03
CNN reporter pepper-sprayed during protest
ctn sot baltimore curfew protesters police_00022507.jpg
ctn sot baltimore curfew protesters police_00022507.jpg
Now playing
02:49
Police fire pellets at protesters
(CNN) —  

The first trial of six police officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death began last week, but the officers aren’t the only ones standing in judgment.

The city’s black political leaders are facing their own day of reckoning as well.

The death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose spine was virtually severed while in police custody, sparked one of the worst urban riots since the 1960s and led to the officers’ arrests.

His death also challenged a fundamental assumption that drove the civil rights movement and still reverberates in the demands of Black Lives Matter activists who press for black leadership in cities such as Ferguson.

Their assumption: Black political power can right the wrongs white leaders failed to address.

That belief propelled blacks into mayors’ offices across the nation, beginning with the 1967 election of Carl Stokes in Cleveland. Those mayors vowed to create jobs and reduce police brutality. Some such as Maynard Jackson in Atlanta and Marion Barry in Washington became virtual folk heroes, lauded for breaking the power of white big-city bosses. And majority-black cities such as Baltimore – which has a black mayor, police chief, chief prosecutor and a majority-black City Council – became bastions of black political power.

But if black political power is so important, why hasn’t it made more of a difference in the lives of poor black people in Baltimore such as Gray?