Balto teaches, researches, and writes about African American history in the United States. His first book, Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), explores the development of a police system in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods that over the course of the mid-20th century became simultaneously brutally repressive and neglectful. His writing has also appeared in TIME magazine, The Washington Post, The Progressive, the Journal of African American History, Labor, and numerous other popular and scholarly outlets.
Balto is co-editing (with Erik Gellman) a volume that highlights new scholarship on the history of black Chicago. He is also at work on two new solo-authored projects, one that explores the history of white criminals donning blackface in the commissioning of crimes, and the other on Fred Hampton—the 21-year-old leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party who was assassinated by the Chicago Police Department in 1969.
Balto earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin in 2015, where he also earned a Master’s Degree in African American Studies. He has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation, among others.