LEGACY: DEFINING THE BLACK HOME (PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE)
Toni L. Griffin
Toni L. Griffin is founder of urbanAC LLC, a planning and design practice working with public, private, and nonprofit partnerships to reimage, reshape, and rebuild just cities and communities. They lead transformative projects rooted in addressing historic and current disparities involving race, class, and generation. They have collaborated with cities on the cusp of just social and economic recovery including Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and St, Louis.
Ms. Griffin is also Professor in Practice of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and is founding director of the Just City Lab, a research platform that investigates how design’s impact on social and spatial justice in cities.
Griffin began her career as a licensed architect in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where she became an Associate Partner working under the leadership of Bruce Graham, Adrian Smith, and Phil Enquist. She later served in deputy director and director of planning roles in Washington, DC, and Newark, New Jersey, respectively.
Toni has authored articles on design justice, including co-editor of The Just City Essays. She has lectured extensively in the US, Netherlands, South Africa, and South America and served as an Obama Presidential appointee to the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts.
REPRESENTING THE BLACK HOME
Michelle J. Wilkinson
Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Ph.D. is a curator of architecture and design at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). She is also co-curator of Making Home: Smithsonian Design Triennial, forthcoming in 2024 at the Cooper Hewitt Museum. In 2018, Wilkinson organized NMAAHC’s three-day symposium, “Shifting the Landscape: Black Architects and Planners, 1968 to Now.” In 2019-2020, she was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Prior to her role at NMAAHC, Wilkinson was Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. She has also worked at the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. As a fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership in 2012, Wilkinson completed a short-term residency at the Design Museum in London. Her research project, “V is for Veranda,” about architectural heritage in the Anglophone Caribbean, has been presented to international audiences in Suriname, England, India, and the United States. Wilkinson’s most recent work focuses on the Black architectural imagination and issues of representation in architectural renderings. She holds a BA from Bryn Mawr College and a PhD from Emory University.
THE CONTINUATION OF THE BLACK HOME
Dana McKinney White
Dana McKinney White is an Assistant Professor of Urban Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. As an architect and urban planner, she advocates for social justice and equity through design, contextualizing people, and their broader communities throughout her work. Her academic and professional work integrates wellness, policy, and public engagement into design solutions to benefit even the most vulnerable populations.
Dana co-founded enFOLD Collective, an interdisciplinary architecture, planning, and design practice, positioning community voices at the center of its work. The collective produces work rooted in site specificity, community needs, and the histories of the people who made that place. Dana established Studio KINN where she consults on considerations of social justice, equity, and alternatives to incarceration.
Dana completed her Master in Architecture and Master Urban Planning at the Harvard GSD. During Dana’s time at the schools, she helped to establish the inaugural Black in Design Conference in 2015, Map the Gap, and the African American Design Nexus. Upon graduation, Dana worked at Gehry Partners where she focused on the LA River, Adre, a purpose-driven real estate development company located in Portland, Oregon, and was a lecturer at the University of Maryland in the undergraduate architecture program.
Melissa Wood Bartholomew
Melissa Wood Bartholomew (she/her) Ph.D., JD, MSW, MDiv ’15, is the Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and Lecturer on Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging at Harvard Divinity School. She is a Christ-centered minister and a racial justice and healing practitioner. At HDS, Melissa teaches courses that explore racial justice and healing. She is an attorney with nearly a decade of experience practicing public interest law, having served as an Assistant Attorney General of Washington and as a legal aid attorney with the Northwest Justice Project in Seattle, WA. Melissa is committed to a multifaith, multidisciplinary, Afrocentric approach to healing justice rooted in the African philosophy of Ubuntu, restorative justice, and love. Believing in the power of restorative justice to operationalize love and transform individuals and systems, Melissa is witnessing the impact of applying a heart-centered restorative justice approach to furthering Harvard Divinity School’s vision of a restorative, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive institution and of a world-healed of racism and oppression. Melissa holds a Ph.D. in social work and focuses her research on the impact of racism and other systems of oppression on the mental health and well-being of Black people and the role of religion, spirituality, and culture in their spiritual resistance. She serves as part-time faculty at Boston College, where she teaches restorative justice at the law school and has taught diversity and systems of oppression at the school of social work. Melissa is supported by the love of her husband, Edward, and their son Eli.
CULTIVATING LAND, CULTIVATING HOME
Julian is the originator of the increasingly influential concept of just sustainabilities, which explores the increasingly intersecting goals of social justice and environmental sustainability, defined as: the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now, and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.
He identifies himself as a critical urban planning and environmental social science scholar. He centers his research on critical explorations of the complex and embodied relations between humans and the urban environment, whether mediated by governments or social movement organizations, and their effects on public policy and planning processes and outcomes, particularly in relation to notions of justice and equity.
He believes that what our cities can become (sustainable, smart, sharing, and resilient) and who is allowed to belong in them (recognition of difference, diversity, and a right to the city) are fundamentally and inextricably interlinked.
RE-MEMBERING HOME: CRITICAL FABULATION & IMAGINATION OF __
Eric Williams is the founder and creative director of The Silver Room – an incubator for innovation that acts as a retail space, art gallery, and community events center located in Hyde Park. Williams has successfully cultivated and positively transformed Chicago communities since 1997, creating seminal events such as The Harper Court Summer Music Series, Grown Folks Stories, Connect South Shore Arts Festival, Connect Hyde Park Arts Festival, and the highly acclaimed Silver Room Sound System Block Party.
In 2019, he established the Silver Room Foundation to support, mentor, and provide space for creative entrepreneurs on the South Side of Chicago. His most recent venture, Bronzeville Winery, is a community-focused wine bar and restaurant in the historic Southside neighborhood.
Eric holds a degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago and was a 2018 Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
BLACK HOME & QUEERNESS
Jha D. Amazi
Jha D. Amazi is a Principal at MASS Design Group, and Director of the firm’s Public Memory and Memorials Lab, an initiative that advances research, training, and built work around a central thesis: that spatializing memory can heal us and inspire collective action for generations to come. Projects in the Lab’s portfolio include The Embrace memorial in partnership with artist Hank Willis Thomas, the Sugar Land 95 Cemetery Revitalization Project, Harris County Remembrance Project, and several initiatives with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
At MASS, Jha D has also contributed to the Gun Violence Memorial Project, Franklin Park Action Plan, and the Louise B. Miller Memorial and Freedom Garden at Gallaudet University. Previously, she worked as a Designer at Sasaki Associates. She received her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Northeastern University and her Master of Architecture I from the University of Pennsylvania.
Prior to pursuing her graduate degree, she taught design studios at the Boston Architectural College. In 2023, she was appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Black Empowerment by Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey.