27 september 1968 & 2mjq
“Only Blacks Can Plan for Black People.”
#OTD-ish 27 September 1968 Bob Jayson, Lawrence Casey Mann, Melvin Mitchell, Harry Quintana, founding members of 2MJQ, advocate planners, were in their design studio (911 W St NW). They were all good friends and affiliated with the Howard University School of Architecture, as current or former students. In 1968, the Architecture Department was located in Downing Hall (part of Death Valley with Physics, Dental School and Medical School).
2MJQ was founded c1967 in order to combine their collective interests in architecture, design, planning and black liberation. They rented the house at 911 W St NW. Melvin Mitchell remembers it as a plain, vanilla two-story rowhouse.: ~16 ft wide & 30 ft deep. They paid $20 per month in rent. “We selected the house because it was cheap and near Howard. We called it our studio and community design center. It was a hub for us to do our rabble rousing.” 2MJQ and other architects, including Charles Cassell, advocated for black architects redesigning neighborhoods and the city for black people.
According to Mitchell, “white architectural firms had a monopoly on projects. Black firms were given school addition projects. After 1968, projects reserved for white firms started to open up.”
Curious about the name? It’s a combination of their last name initials and their favorite musicians, the Modern Jazz Quartet.
Photo source: Courtesy Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and Hilltop newspaper. Lawrence Casey Mann II, photographer.
A big thank you to Melvin Mitchell for talking with me about 2MJQ and for showing me the location of the former studio. 25 January 2018. Check out Mitchell’s book, The Crisis of the African American Architect. There’s a wonderful section in the book about 1968 and the conversation in the studio after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Melvin Mitchell shared that a Dutch film crew videoed them in 1968. I’m hoping to find the film crew and the footage. Please reach out to me if you have ideas on how to locate them.
Steve Abel, ”Urban Architects Call Urban Planning Vital Need for Black Communities,” Hilltop, 12 January 1968, p. 1.
”Advocacy Planning: What it is; How it works,” Progressive Architecture September 1968. I thank Mitchell for loaning me his copy of the magazine.