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Kopper member of multi-institutional team awarded grant from National Archives to virtually bring to life destroyed African American neighborhoods

Augmented Reality Landscapes: African American Urbanism

Assistant Professor Regis Kopper received a grant from the National Archives to work  collaboratively with Johnson C. Smith University and Duke University to reproduce historic African American neighborhoods in Charlotte that have been destroyed and shaped by government sponsored urban renewal policies in an augmented reality digital environment.

The project enhances the public discovery of Black settlement patterns in the city by making documents and maps from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department available for the first time. Digitization and contextualization of these materials will allow users to trace the planning and execution of federal and state sponsored urban renewal strategies as well as the geographical footprint of this lost community.

This project revives seemingly lost communities, and in doing so preserves history, culture, and a sense of place while also educating a new generation about segregation, the Civil Rights Movement, the Fair Housing Act,  Black entrepreneurship, social and voluntary club life,leadership, Black families and other black institutions. These areas included Brooklyn, Irwin Park, Dilworth, and Greenville, and later Biddleville and Cherry.  The framework for this project can be repeated in other cities across the United States, and Charlotte’s experience will be placed within a national context that will expose the extent and patterns of this forced removal.

At UNCG, Prof. Kopper will be responsible for the integration of 3D models of buildings and landmarks from lost communities into Virtual Reality (VR) and for the assessment of an immersive experience as an educational tool.