Black communities are using mapping to document and restore a sense of place

This connects with the broader restorative justice movement that seeks to address historic wrongs by documenting past and present injustices through perspectives that are often ignored or forgotten.
By: The Conversation
HOUSTON - Feb. 6, 2024 - PRLog -- By: Joshua F.J. Inwood, Penn State, Derek H. Alderman, University of Tennessee

When historian Carter Woodson created "Negro History Week" in 1926, which became "Black History Month" in 1976, he sought not to just celebrate prominent Black historical figures but to transform how white America saw and valued all African Americans.

However, many issues in the history of Black Americans can get lost in a focus on well-known historical figures or other important events.

Our research looks at how African American communities struggling for freedom have long used maps to protest and survive racism while affirming the value of Black life.

We have been working on the "Living Black Atlas," an educational initiative that highlights the neglected history of Black mapmaking in America. It shows the creative ways in which Black people have historically used mapping to document their stories. Today, communities are using "restorative mapping" as a way to tell stories of Black Americans.

Maps for restorative justice

Restorative mapping is an important part of the Living Black Atlas: It helps bring visibility to Black experiences that have been marginalized or forgotten.

An important example of restorative mapping work comes from the Honey Pot Performance, a collective of Black feminists who helped create the Chicago Black Social Culture Map, or the CBSCM. This digital map traces Black Chicagoans' experiences from the Great Migration to the rise of electronic dance music in the city . The map includes historical records and music posters as well as descriptions of important people and venues for that music.

The Conversation
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