We hope to build a robust digital archive to preserve the history of this community, one that does not leave itself vulnerable to “digital gentrification,” such that only scholars and professional historians end up benefiting from the availability of this information. Moreover, given the surveillance to which African-Americans in particular are increasingly vulnerable and the exploitation of their data in the digital economy, we want to be mindful of balancing the need to democratize access to historical information and to keep the data of vulnerable populations secure. Lastly, we want to empower the community itself to preserve their own histories.
Gentrification is often cast as a “local” problem, which only isolates the community under threat. Gentrification is a problem that affects many urban communities not only within the U.S., but outside it, too. Forging connections and sharing ideas and best practices across communities is an important goal for this project. Within the context of greater U Street itself, by creating connections across generations, institutions, and individuals, we hope to create a sustainable and inclusive model for community-based historical preservation. Thus, facilitating such horizontal solidarities is an important organizational principle for the project.