December 2, 2021

In 2019, the Center on Society and Health completed a set of studies (“Getting Ahead” and “Measuring Opportunity”) that documented large geographic inequalities in Northern Virginia. In a region known for its affluence, the Center documented a 17-year gap in life expectancy across census tracts and identified 15 “islands of disadvantage,” neighborhoods where residents face harsh living conditions. These neighborhoods did not come into existence by accident – they are products of history.

Commissioned by the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, “Deeply Rooted: History’s Lessons for Equity in Northern Virginia'' provides some background to those studies by digging deep into Black history in Northern Virginia over the past 400 years. The report details a history of exclusion from freedom, homeownership, education, jobs and civil liberties and offers suggestions for current policies that can help redress the lasting impact of the past. 

The report was published alongside an accompanying website that digs deeper into the people, places, and events mentioned in the report and allows for additional audio and video recordings. You can explore the website at