Creative Placemaking,
Black Restorative Ecologies,
and Black Spatial Futures


Raychel Gadson (Dissertation Fellow) is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Political Science department at Johns Hopkins University. She studies urban politics in the U.S., particularly how histories of residential segregation have shaped spatial and political inequality. Her work is multidisciplinary, also drawing from Black studies, geography, anthropology, urban planning, and public health. Her dissertation research is focused on the politics of Black women’s placemaking in cities. This includes the everyday ways that Black women create meaningful places in urban neighborhoods, and the organizing work that they do to hold onto those places in the face of recurrent efforts to displace Black residents. Her project is grounded in a Black feminist epistemology and utilizes engaged and archival methods to build on a growing body of scholarship that theorizes the state alongside politically marginalized communities. Raychel is also an organizer with the South Baltimore Community Land Trust, and a graduate mentor for pre-doctoral fellows through the SNF Agora Institute.

Dominique Hazzard (Dissertation Fellow) is a doctoral candidate in History at Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation is an intellectual history of black food politics in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. The project examines avenues through which black Washingtonians sought to reshape their food system—cooperative organizing, urban agriculture, entrepreneurship, and even rebellion—to argue that food was a critical site of Black Power praxis in the city. Dominique is also a public historian in and of the District. Her current work is based at The Well at Oxon Run, an urban farm and wellness space in Southeast Washington, where she is leading an oral history project and developing a permanent exhibition. She previously worked at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum as junior curator of “Food for the People: Eating and Activism in Greater Washington,” which was awarded the 2020-2021 Smithsonian Award for Excellence in Exhibitions.

Timothy Kumfer (Postdoctoral Fellow) holds a doctorate in American Studies from the University of Maryland–College Park. His current manuscript “Counter-Capital: Black Power, the New Left, and the Struggle to Remake Washington, D.C. From Below, 1964-1994” explores how Black activists and their allies fought for greater control over the city and its future between the War on Poverty and rise of neoliberal austerity. From 2022-2023 he was the inaugural Researching Black Washington Fellow at the DC History Center. As part of the fellowship he completed a forthcoming article on Josephine D. Butler, an organizer at the center of multiple struggles in the city and a key leader in the fight for DC statehood. His research on the Black Land Movement, a grassroots organization active in the late 1960s and early 1970s, has been featured as part of the Revolutionary Papers initiative. An interdisciplinary scholar of social movements and cities, his work draws on the fields of African American studies, urban studies, transnational American Studies, and 20th C. US history.