Our Guiding Principles


The Texas Freedom Colonies Project is an evolving social justice initiative that
documents Black landscape heritage and historic sites and conducts research that
supports grassroots preservationists’ goals. Academics, practitioners, and most
importantly, descendants are our co-researchers.

Guiding Principles:

The Texas Freedom Colonies Project is a statewide, educational, social justice
initiative dedicated to preserving Black settlements’ landscapes, heritage, and
grassroots practice through participatory research. Freedom colony descendants’ long
history of struggle against systemic racism and commitment to self-determination,
asset building, and collective identity formation inform the principles of The Texas
Freedom Colonies Project. The Texas Freedom Colonies Project’s principles and
approach are as follows:

Principle 1

Provide a central location for and safeguard counternarratives and counter maps based, in
part, on ancestors’ and living descendants’ oral traditions, placemaking history,
communication networks, and personal archives.

Principle 2

Through engaged research, connect descendants in the freedom colony “diaspora” to
academic resources and each other to address vulnerabilities, sustain cultural traditions,
and increase community visibility.

Principle 3

Develop a learning community, capacity-building workshops, and partnerships in physical
and virtual spaces with community-based groups and agencies.

Principle 4

Co-create solutions “from below” to define shared goals and center people and their

Principle 5

Promote inclusion and interrupt erasure by creating a bridge between descendants and
policy spaces on which new definitions of place and historical significance can be
recognized and engaged.

Principle 6

Expand access to planning processes and institutions by altering the conditions under
which public participation is possible for minoritized or otherwise marginalized groups.

Principle 7

Integrate diverse practices and research approaches that promote representativeness,
cultural humility, and power-sharing (leadership) that confronts operating assumptions
and standards–the basis of belonging in civic life.

These guiding principles were developed in 2022 by Andrea Roberts, Sarah Potvin, and Jennifer Rochon Blanks with support from the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research’s Carrol O. Buttrill ’38 Endowed Fund for Ethics at Texas A&M University. Our principles draw on the powerful example of The Colored Convention Project Principles. Founded and cultivated at the University of Delaware, 2012-2020, the Colored Convention Project is currently a flagship project at the Center for Black Digital Research at Penn State University. For more on the CCP’s principles and their genealogy, see https://coloredconventions.org/about/principles/ (Permalink: https://perma.cc/PWN9-Z4FA)