Beyond a Place to Live in DC: Preserving the Remainder of "Chocolate City"

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Once known as “Chocolate City” for its prosperous Black residents, businesses, and communities, Washington, D.C. today is in many ways a contrasting image. The City continues to lose its Black residents and remaining majority Black communities are at elevated risk of displacement. Intensive development and gentrification further increase the cost of living in D.C., subsequently making the City too expensive for many. Further, as newcomers integrate into communities, existing norms, spaces, and traditions valuable to long-term residents are erased. The District’s majority Black Ward 8 is at increased risk of erasure through physical and cultural displacement. As long-term residents’ needs go unaddressed and housing costs increase, alongside the elimination of critical community assets, impactful solutions are increasingly decisive to the longevity of Black communities. This report explores the impacts of development and gentrification in the District. Through comparative historical analysis of both Ward 6 and Ward 8 and interviews with long-term residents and field experts, the report provides insights and recommendations for how local leaders can prevent cultural displacement in Ward 8. Recommendations include long-term resident covenants, a DC Council Committee on Preservation, the expansion of grocery store access, community land trusts for small businesses, and additional research on cultural displacement and preservation. To better serve and preserve Black D.C. communities, District leaders must prioritize swift, effective solutions in Ward 8.





Barnes, Andrea (2021). Beyond a Place to Live in DC: Preserving the Remainder of "Chocolate City". Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.