Preserving Communities of Color, is a national movement comprised of a coalition of people and organizations who lend their expertise and background in preservation, community development, social and cultural entrepreneurship to support place based leaders with strategies, tools and ideas to preserve and develop historic places into thriving, inclusive communities and cultural destinations.
Preserving Communities of Color started off as an effort to help local leaders strengthen their communities through preservation and revitalization. In 2015, Preserving Communities of Color initiated a small capacity building program to share resources and mentor leaders across communities doing similar work. Within that same year Preserving Communities of Color partnered with the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance (HBTSA) to focus on preserving places that embody the African American experience of place in America. Together, the HBTSA and other partners realized the importance of preserving those historic towns that were settled by African Americans shortly after the Civil War. After a few assessments of these towns it was determined that the state and sustainability of all communities of color were important but the disparities, inequalities and barriers existing in the black community were compounded and therefore strategic alliances must be forged to successfully preserve these few remaining historic places.
In 2016, we co-hosted a national conference in Houston, Texas with the HBTSA bringing together leaders representing more than 53 historic black towns and settlements. In conjunction with Prairie View, Texas , the conference was the first convening of its kind that specifically focused on the needs of historic communities of color. Currently, we plan to host an annual conference each year in Texas and partner with others to co-host events across America.
In 2017, we implemented a strategy to amplify the voices of these historic places by developing a website that helped bring awareness about the history and issues these communities faced. We attended the Communities Conference located in Eatonville, Florida held in conjunction with the legendary Zorafest! Through our presence we wanted to impact a larger audience by amplifying the purpose and mission of the event that celebrates the iconic literary figure, Zora Neal Hurston who grew up in Eatonville founded in 1887 by freed slaves.
To date, we are listening to our followers and developing programs and initiatives that will help improve their work on the ground and amplify the voices of these places.