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FreedomCon 2021 – Documenting Racially Restrictive Covenants in Washington DC: A Primer

May 22, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Mara Cherkasky first wrote about racially restrictive covenants in the mid-1990s and has been systematically documenting and mapping them in Washington, DC since 2014. Reviewing more than 100,000 property records and thus far finding racially restrictive covenants on more than 20,000 DC properties, Ms. Cherkasky will explain what racially restrictive covenants are, their formulation in public policy, and their relationship to the development of housing segregation in the District of Columbia. Additionally, she will describe the process by which she and her collaborators developed a methodology for researching and documenting racial covenants.


Mara Cherkasky is a DC-based historian and writer, and the co-founder in 2014 of both the historical research firm Prologue DC, LLC, and the digital public history project Mapping Segregation in Washington DC (

Mara has also produced exhibit panels, books and articles for print and online publications, multi-media presentations, and historic site signage for clients such as the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, Cultural Tourism DC, and the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation. A meticulous researcher, she has assisted the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, WETA-TV, the DC Historic Preservation Office, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and many others with projects. She is also as an experienced oral history interviewer and walking tour guide.

Current/recent projects include mapping the ca. 1912 destruction of the African American community on Meridian Hill; developing a 100-site DC African American Civil Rights Tour; and creating a Heritage Trail (signs with text, maps, and images) for the Northeast DC neighborhood of Eckington.

Mara holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s degree in American Studies from George Washington University.


May 22, 2021
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Mary Liz Stewart