Mapping Richmond’s Displaced Communities

A new project catalogs the city’s history of displacement and its impact on communities of color.

June 6, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Nighttime view of downtown Richmond, Virginia

Sean Pavone / Richmond, Virginia

An article by Tiff Murray-Robertson spotlights Virginia Commonwealth University L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs student LaToya Gray-Sparks, who designed “an interactive digital story map that details the efforts of Richmond authorities during the 1930s and ‘40s to displace residents from the city’s Black communities — effectively destroying neighborhoods for generations.”

In addition to documenting the physical destruction of neighborhoods in the mid-twentieth century, the project, titled Planned Destruction, “also visually captures the changing landscape with historic and contemporary maps of the entire city, including Black and white populations, median household incomes, poverty rates and property value.”

Gray-Sparks was selected as one of 25 scholars participating in “Toward a People’s History of Landscape,” a summer institute from the National Endowment for the Humanities. “The highly competitive professional development program supports research and exploration of the nation’s cultural and geographical landscape through social histories, centering on Black and Indigenous historical narratives in the founding of the United States.” According to the article, “During the immersive three-week program, Gray-Sparks will collaborate with scholars to develop online, open-source curriculum modules that teach landscape-oriented social histories.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in VCU News

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