After Juneteenth, formerly enslaved African Americans in Texas founded hundreds of historic Black settlements known as freedom colonies. Later, freedom colonies’ populations dispersed, physical traces disappeared, and memories of locations vanished as descendants passed away. In the absence of buildings and legally recognized borders, intangible heritage—stories, ephemeral traditions—define a sense of place. Betraying the perception that these places have disappeared, founders’ descendants express commitments to freedom colonies by returning periodically to plan commemorative events, rehabilitate historic structures, and steward cemeteries. The Texas Freedom Colonies Project (The TXFC Project), a team of faculty and student researchers, documents settlements while supporting descendant communities’ historic preservation aims. By making diasporic publics legible and increasing the visibility of communities’ settlement patterns and remaining extant features, The TXFC Project elevates stakeholders’ concerns in urban planning domains. In 2020, COVID-19’s social distancing requirements challenged diasporic descendants’ efforts to foster social cohesion. Consequently, The TXFC Project hosted a Facebook Live “talk show,” leveraging social media platforms to amplify freedom colony descendants’ work. The team analyzed event transcripts revealing cultural adaptations to socially restrictive conditions during Juneteenth commemorations and indicating that virtual storytelling helped territorialize widely dispersed, unbounded places for stakeholders facing natural and human-made disruptions.

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