25 june 1968 & whitney young jr excoriates white architects @aia convention
"I hope you accept my recommendation for a moratorium on the study of the Negro in this country. And if there are more studies, I hope we'll make them on white people. And then instead of studying the souls of black people, we'll study the souls of white people."
Whitney Young, Jr.
#OTD 25 June 1968 Whitney Young, Jr. delivers the keynote address at the annual American Institute of Architects national convention in Portland, Oregon, which reverberated in DC and across the United States. Young, president of the National Urban League, was invited by white AIA president, Robert Durham. In 1968, architecture as a professional field was overrepresented by white males. They were the overwhelming number of attendees who heard his speech and to whom he addressed his remarks.
"...you are not a profession that has distinguished itself by your social and civic contributions to the cause of civil rights, and I am sure that this has not come to you as a shock. You are most distinguished by your thunderous silence and your complete irrelevance."
"...I can't help but wonder about an architect that builds some of the public housing that I see in the cities of this country. How he could even compromise his own profession and his own sense of values to have built 35 or 40-story buildings, these vertical slums, and not even put a restroom in the basement and leave enough recreational space for 10 kids when there must be 5,000 in the building. That architects as a profession, wouldn't as a group stand up and say something about this, is disturbing to me. "
"You are employers, you are key people in the planning of our cities today. You share the responsibility for the mess we are in terms of the white noose around the central city. It didn't just happen. We didn't suddenly get this situation. It was planned."
Click here to read his entire speech.
Your comments are welcome below. Did you, family member or neighbor hear Young's speech? What ddid/do you think of his speech? Were you an architect in 1968? Did Young inspire you to become an architect? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy American Institute of Architects. Photographer unknown.
Sharon Sutton on Whitney Young's Speech, Architect, 8 May 2018.