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Arts and Culture News

Art And Soul: Conserving The Culture Of Chocolate Cities

Valencia Johnson takes a photo of Michael Berry's painting of Chuck Brown before a viewing of the musical artist at the Howard Theater on May 29, 2012 in Washington. Brown, who died on May 16, was a guitarist and singer who played a primary role in the birth of Go-go, a local type of funk music.
Valencia Johnson takes a photo of Michael Berry's painting of Chuck Brown before a viewing of the musical artist at the Howard Theater on May 29, 2012 in Washington. Brown, who died on May 16, was a guitarist and singer who played a primary role in the birth of Go-go, a local type of funk music.

Washington, D.C. was the first majority-black city in the U.S. and it stayed that way for decades, from 1970 to 2015. Now the African-American population in the nation’s capital is somewhere around 48 percent, according to the latest Census data.

Similar demographic changes have happened in places nicknamed “chocolate cities” — like Atlanta, Oakland, New Orleans — as the effects of investment, revitalization and gentrification play out in neighborhoods with historically large black populations.

When long-time residents from these areas leave or are forced out economically, what do they take with them? Can the culture of a chocolate city — its heritage and its heart — remain when its black residents have moved on?

GUESTS

Marcus Hunter, African American studies chair, University of California, Los Angeles; co-author, “Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life”; @manthonyhunter

Zandria Robinson, Assistant professor of sociology, Rhodes College; co-author, “Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life”; @zfelice

Dan Kalb, Oakland City Councilmember; @DanKalb

Andre Johnson, Founder and lead guitarist for the band Rare Essence; @rewickedestband

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