Lecture Title: The Freedom Colony Repertoire: The Role of Oral Tradition in African American Planning and Preservation Practice
From 1865 to 1910, formerly enslaved Texans founded more than 500 “freedom colonies” or freedmen’s towns across the state. By the 1940s, descendants dispersed leaving behind intangible geographies where conventional evidence of place has since disappeared. However, some descendants, like those in Shankleville, Texas, sustained attachments and preserved communities through a unique planning repertoire even as population decreased and physical manifestations of place dissipated. Through analysis of findings resulting from archival, participatory action, and ethnographic research, the author determined that freedom colony descendants’ storytelling practices are central to understanding their identity, planning repertoire, and goals.
About the Speaker
Dr. Andrea Roberts is a lecturer and an Emerging Scholar Fellow of Race and Gender in the Built Environment of the American City at The University of Texas at Austin, School of Architecture. Her research interests include cultural agency, equitable development, planning process, planning history, and historic preservation policy. More specifically, her work examines African and African American diasporic planning history and practice. In addition to her PhD in Community & Regional Planning, she earned a MA in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Political Science from Vassar College. More than 10 years’ experience in economic and community development, as well as service to historic preservation organizations inform her work.