Using oral history research under the direction of the Queer Newark Oral History Project, this essay explores how contemporary black lesbian entrepreneurs in the city of Newark, New Jersey, are engaged in entrepreneurial practices that resist patterns of gentrification. I argue for expanding our definition of public history to account for the business practices and social structures that queer black women in Newark are erecting as a part of their survival. These serve to pave the way for the preservation of their culture, enable them to collaborate with community in shared authority, and present queer black women’s knowledge and history to the wider public. By expanding the definition of what constitutes a public historian, we acknowledge the power of black lesbians as producers of historical knowledge and create new access points for shared inquiry with various marginalized communities that reach beyond academia and cultural institutions.
For suggestions that greatly improved this article, my gratitude goes to professors Whitney Strub, Mary Rizzo, and Timothy Stewart-Winter. I would also like to thank the Queer Newark Oral History Project and co-founder Christina Strasburger, Tamara Fleming for her beautiful photographs, the amazing women who shared their life stories with me, and my wife, Coleen Barr, for her endless love and support.