Majora Carter is a woman who wears many hats: real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant, a MacArthur Fellow, a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, a lecturer at the Keller Center at Princeton University.
At the heart of her work is the idea that “nobody should have to move out of their neighborhood to live in a better one” — words emblazoned on the walls of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, a Smithsonian Institution.
“Even despite how horrible things may seem outwardly,” Carter told Jake Neher of WDET in March 2022, with regards to lower income communities, “there’s also always a sense of community in those areas, but it’s often overshadowed by this idea that those communities inherently have no value while we’re in them.”
At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 6, in the Hall of Philosophy, Carter will deliver the Week Two installment of the Chautauqua Speaker Series, programmed by the African American Heritage House. Carter is editor and senior producer at GroundTruth, the outlet based out of the nonprofit Groundswell, dedicated to telling stories of people building community power.
She’s also the author of Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move Out of Your Neighborhood to Live in a Better One.
Largely, her work focuses on talent retention to reduce “brain drain” in America’s low-status communities. She has much experience pioneering sustainable economic development in one of America’s most storied low-status communities: her hometown of the South Bronx.
“I’m not saying that talent retention is going to solve gentrification, but gentrification will not be fixed without talent retention because the underlying problem is the lack of wealth creation and retention in those same communities,” Carter told David Brancaccio for “Marketplace Morning Report” in February 2022. “Because when you think about it, gentrification generally involves outsiders coming in to change a community to suit (their) needs.”
Reclaiming, she told Brancaccio, “involves retaining the talent that is already there to improve our surroundings and our own economic future.”
In the South Bronx, Carter launched the Boogie Down Grind, a hip-hop themed specialty coffee and craft beer spot, and the first commercial “third space” in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the South Bronx since the mid-1980s.
“(Community members) want to feel as though there’s something to look forward to in their community that just speaks to them,” she told Brancaccio. “And it has things like cafes and restaurants and parks and bookstores where they can meet other people and express themselves and just feel good about where they are.”
For her work, Carter has been named among the “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs” by Goldman Sachs, a “Silicon Alley 100” by Business Insider, and she was awarded the Liberty Medal for Lifetime Achievement by News Corp., among other honors.
She’s served on the boards of the U.S. Green Building Council, Ceres, The Wilderness Society and the Andrew Goodman Foundation.