This one took a teeny bit longer than usual. I understand that our legacy is ongoing. I understand there is still much to do and learn to help grow as a society. In seeking just one featured individual for today’s content, I found too few and too many at the same time.
In my nominal research I learned that the U.S. has 116,242 licensed architects (ncarb.org). Out of this number, 2,445 are African-American, and out of this number, 539 are Black Women (blackarchitect.us).
From a 1950 Ebony Magazine article (madamearchitect.org) – [Georgia] Louise Harris Brown was “the only Negro woman working for a white engineering firm in Chicago…she met with no resentment from the eight men employees of the company, [and found her] boss…”a wonderful man.”
Oh that’s great to read from a difficult time in this country!
Let’s leap forward to 2020 and culturedmag.com. In the article, “15 Architects On Being Black In Architecture,” of course I picked out the groovy women! They talk about feeling “othered” and isolated in the profession, the lack of diversity, tokenism, and even being in demand from bringing different perspectives to the industry.
I chose Kimberly Dowdell, the most recent outgoing president of the National Organization of Minority Architects for today’s Black Herstory entry. Yes, it helps that she is from my hometown and is standing in front of the world-famous Detroit Renaissance Center. (I worked an externship there at a printing company when I was 14, thank you very much!)
According to Architect Magazine, during her presidency, she doubled NOMA membership, strengthened ties with industry partners, and worked diligently to elevate the next generation of architects of color. In addition to being an architect, she is a lecturer, educator, real estate developer, and has “a passion for creating remarkable places where people can sustainably flourish and thrive.”