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 & Regional Planning Program at the University of Texas-Austin. Her personal mission is to address social & 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.
She has founded the Texas Freedom Colonies Project, a research & social justice initiative dedicated to recording settlement origin stories, cultural practices, and memories of ex-slaves’ contributions to American planning history and practice. Her goal is diversify planning and placemaking history, bring attention to descendants’ current community development & historic preservation issues, and advocate for policy changes that increase these vanishing communities’ access to resources.
Her work is informed by more than 15 years’ experience in public finance, housing, economic development, grassroots advocacy, teaching, and nonprofit management. Her latest project is the Texas Freedom Colonies Symposium, held during the 2015 Texas Purple Hull Pea Festival. The foodways and cultural celebration is an unprecedented gathering of preservationists, activists, and descendants from Texas’ historic Black settlements.
Andrea holds a MA in Governmental Administration and Public Finance from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies from Vassar College. She has served on the Preservation Committee of the Heritage Society of Austin and is presently a City of Austin Historic Landmark Commissioner.