Confronting Gentrification

The richness of the U Street area's history is extraordinary. Not only was it a hub of cultural production and artistry, its diverse communities were unusually entrepreneurial and welcoming. With the rise of real estate development, the displacement of small businesses by national chains and an influx of new, transient residents with no real understanding of the neighborhood or its past, gentrification is not only displacing people, businesses and organizations but threatening cultural loss and historical erasure. To confront gentrification is to confront an erasure. In that spirit, we hope you will explore the fruits of some of our research in local and national archives, including the Library of Congress, the DC Public Library, George Washington University Library's Special Collections and Howard University Library's Moorland-Springarn Research Center, in the spatial archive below.

 

 

In addition to our archival research, we collected oral histories from prominent members of the community able to speak to different aspects of the neighborhood's past, as well as how they witnessed and experienced its changing natureWe were especially interested in capturing different perspectives on and experiences of gentrification, a few of can be heard below. Given the sensitive nature of some of the content of these interviews, we are sharing only excerpts. Interested researchers can contact us to gain a better understanding of and access to the full collection.  Furthermore, if you are interested in contributing to our collections or recording your memories, or would like our help to digitize your own collections, please contact us.

Rev. Dr. Sandra Butler-Truesdale on faith and gentrification
Rayceen Pendarvis, noted LGBTQ leader and performer, on what is lost in gentrification
Rayceen Pendarvis on the pushback against gentrification
James Morgan III, official historian of Prince Hall Grand Lodge, on different kinds of gentrification