AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Housing Department will host Black Land Matters, The Symposium on Thursday, June 15, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Austin Central Library Special Event Center. Panelists, a housing and property rights expert, a landowner, and a developer, will explore the ongoing challenges that Black Americans continue to face regarding land ownership. This event will delve into the intersections of land ownership, wealth building, and cultural sustainability while also sharing available resources and discussing challenges and opportunities to help secure black land ownership in the face of ongoing land loss. Registration is free and includes lunch for attendees.
“We are creating a space where dialogue can be the fuel to generate ideas, resources, strategies, and networks to help black communities reaffirm the value of land ownership,” explains Nefertitti Jackmon, Community Displacement Prevention Officer. “We hope to encourage expansion of home ownership and plant seeds that will lead to equitable and conscious community developments.”
The panel discussion will emphasize methods and resources to expand landownership for wealth building, cultural sustainability, and improved health outcomes. Partners include the City of Austin Economic Development Department, Austin Public Health, and the Austin Public Library.
“We recognize the continuing challenges of land loss and displacement among the African American community,” explains Rosie Truelove, Director for the Housing Department. “We are pleased to host this symposium and elevate this important conversation.”
- Thomas W. Mitchell is a property law scholar, who is working to reform laws and develop policy solutions to address the mechanisms that deprive Black and other disadvantaged American families of their land, homes, and real estate wealth. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow, he is the principal drafter of the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA) of 2010. He is the Robert Drinan, S.J., Professor and Director of the Initiative on Land, Housing & Property Rights at Boston College of Law.
- Rosalind “Roz” Alexander-Kasparik is a 6th-generation descendent of Daniel Alexander (1810-1883) and his mother, Ceny. Daniel Alexander was a once-enslaved, nationally-known Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse breeder and trainer whose equestrian skills were coveted by the McKinney’s of the ranch now known as McKinney Falls State Park. The Alexander Farm in southeast Austin has been owned, operated, and loved by Alexander’s descendants for 175 years and counting. The Alexander family continues to defend their historic land legacy.
- James Armstrong III is the chief executive director of Builders of Hope in Dallas, Texas. With their most recent project, Armstrong hopes to alleviate the negative effects of gentrification and provide economic mobility for families that need it most. “We are more than home builders, we are hope builders”, “Building hope for us means breaking the cycles of poverty by building strong communities and creating generational wealth through homeownership.” He is also in the Equitable Development Initiative sponsored by Capital Impact Partners.
- Moderator: Nefertitti Jackmon is the Community Displacement Prevention Officer for the City of Austin Housing Department. She’s responsible for spearheading the development of programs and strategies to prevent displacement of vulnerable households, including the $300 million anti-displacement investments for Project Connect, described as a “comprehensive transit system expansion that will help transform Austin into one of the most sustainable, inclusive and innovative regions in the country.” communities.
- MC: Jennifer Sanders, KXAN News Anchor, is an Edward R. Murrow winner and Emmy-nominated global journalist, news anchor, college professor and documentary filmmaker, who is passionate about helping and empowering people through visual storytelling. Her 2019 documentary won several awards, including the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award. “Hidden History: The End of Syracuse’s 15th Ward” was focused on a small neighborhood during Syracuse’s 1950s that was decimated by the construction of Interstate 81 under the Federal Highway Act, urban renewal, and redlining. She has also reported frequently on gentrification in Austin.
For more information on resources for displacement prevention and other housing resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/housing.
About the City of Austin Housing and Planning Department
The City of Austin Housing and Planning Department provides resources related to planning, zoning, housing, and community development to enhance the quality of life of all Austinites. Equitable, efficient, and comprehensive planning with displacement prevention as a prioritized focus is the Department’s core charge in delivering housing services to the community.