I am not too familiar with the particulars of this project, but what I heard is inspirational and (in my opinion) award-winning-even if it hasn't won any awards.
Historical Resources Manager
City of Venice
Venice Museum & Archives
Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably
impossible for vigorous streets and districts to
grow without them....
– Jane Jacobs from The Death and Life of Great American Cities
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Wow. Thank you, Gylbert Coker, for posting and getting this important conversation started. As Jamesha Gibson mentioned, the National Trust's Research and Policy Lab is currently working in conjunction with the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund towards the release of a report on cultural heritage and displacement in historically African American neighborhoods in late January / early February 2020. The report will include a literature review focused on the history of neighborhood change as it impacts historically African American neighborhoods and prevailing literature on gentrification and displacement. It will also include material from a group of excellent young scholars who conducted case studies in some of the historically African American neighborhoods in our ten study cities. Some of the Research Fellows studied the erasure of African American communities, so I think this will be very relevant to your question.
As far as our team is am aware, renovations of contributing properties in historic districts are subject to historic building rehab standards, but historic district status is threatened by loss of integrity of the buildings rather than change in the demographic makeup of the neighborhood. The Lower East Side in New York, for example, has shifted its ethnic population numerous times, but remains designated historic because of the significance of what happened there. This, of course, touches on one debate at the heart of our study, which is how historic preservation can be practiced more equitably and address concerns associated with neighborhood change.
Just as you've heard from our former colleague Melissa Jest, our team isn't aware of any previous studies looking specifically at how many or how frequently African American communities are destroyed or erased, but we hope that our study starts to elevate the subject more and further demonstrate its urgency. There was a study from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition earlier this year that looked at the displacement of African American and Latino residents (see https://ncrc.org/gentrification/), but it didn't engage the role preservation plays in such instances. More work is needed here, no doubt.
I'm sorry to not have more previous work to point to, but again, I'm grateful for the good discussion here. We're eager to release our report early next year and look forward to more direct focus on this topic in the near future.
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