LaToya Gray-Sparks

LaToya Gray-Sparks

Affiliate Faculty Member

(804) 551-3968

Remote at 414 N. Sheppard Street


  • M.A. in Urban & Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University (Expected in 2022)
  • B.A. in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University

Research Interests

Gray-Sparks' research and scholarship focuses on the intersections of urban history and Black life, Black geography, counter-cartography, housing justice, migration and displacement, and community empowerment through radical planning and historic preservation practices.


Commitment to African American Studies

As a graduate student in urban and regional planning, Gray-Sparks' focus has primarily been on the impact that urban planning has had on Black neighborhoods and communities. Unfortunately, the existing scholarship on this subject matter is scarce--despite the devastating impact of urban planning on Black spaces. Before she enrolled in the urban & regional planning program here at VCU, Gray-Sparks was a student of public hat the University of Richmond. That program ended a few years ago, but she is proud to say that that the research that she started at UR (which was investigating the origin of public housing in Richmond, Virginia) has provided the foundation for the research and scholarship she has produced while at VCU. That work culminated in the creation of my story map, "Planned Destruction."

"Planned Destruction" received international recognition at a conference in 2020 for being best educational map. Since then, Gray-Sparks has been dedicated to documenting and mapping Black neighborhoods and spaces that were purposefully wiped off of the map and the urban landscape through discriminatory urban planning and housing practices. She hopes that her work: 1) helps and encourages African Americans to learn more about their history and heritage and 2) can lend towards making a case for reparations through reparative planning processes and/or programs directed specifically towards Black people in the form of wealth creation and home ownership.