Each week throughout February, the Chicago studio’s Diversity and Inclusion group shared information about a different set of influential black thought leaders who are either historical legacies or are making living history in 2020. From architects, to musicians, to pilots, and civil rights activists, we learned about Robert Traynham Coles, Ella Jane Fitzgerald, Bessie Coleman, Serena Jameka Williams, Ruby Bridges, Lisa Gelobter, Philip Emeagwali, Theaster Gates, Pierre-Yves Rochon’s Samuel Lamarr Reid, and Perkins and Will legacy Phil Freelon.
Additionally, we joined together with our colleagues for two lunchtime events: on February 12, we watched a film on redlining practices in Minneapolis, which was historically used throughout the United States to prevent non-whites from settling in certain neighborhoods. During this film we learned about this essential piece of history and its affects on city planning today, while enjoying soul food dishes from Luella’s Southern Kitchen.
On February 26 we hosted a presentation and discussion: Malcolm Davis from Perkins and Wills’ Charlotte studio presented Destination Crenshaw, a 1.3 mile-long community art installation in Los Angeles that broke ground this past week. Immediately following, Kimberly Dowdell, the president of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), spoke to us about NOMA’s mission, how they champion diversity within the design profession, and how we can get more involved.
Each year we welcome Black History Month, and look forward to learning how these stories shape who we are today, and how we can use this knowledge to improve our future.