Houston Area Freedom Colonies
Born in Sugar Land, Texas, Andrea Roberts is a community development professional, founder of the Texas Freedom Colonies Project, and doctoral candidate in the Community and Regional Planning Program at The University of Texas-Austin. Her personal mission is to address social and economic inequity in marginalized places by helping people convert social capital (family history/culture/memory) into community capital through a method she calls Critical Sankofa Planning.
“The Texas Freedom Colonies Project” is the title of her doctoral research; the project’s purpose is to record settlement origin stories, intangible heritage, and African American contributions to planning history and practice, specifically in East Texas. Her goal is to diversify planning and placemaking history, bring attention to descendants’ current community development and historic preservation issues, and advocate for policy changes that increase these vanishing communities’ access to resources.
Robert’s work is informed by more than 15 years’ experience in public finance, housing, economic development, grassroots advocacy, teaching, and nonprofit management in Houston, Philadelphia, and other metropolitan areas. Recently, she hosted the Texas Freedom Colonies Symposium. Held at a historic settlement founded by ex-slaves in East Texas, the symposium brought together preservationists, activists, and descendants from Texas’s historic Black settlements to share best practices, origin stories, and concerns.
Roberts holds an M.A. in Governmental Administration and Public Finance from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Political Science and Women’s Studies from Vassar College. She has served on the Preservation Committee of the Heritage Society of Austin and the City of Austin Historic Landmark Commission.