Black History Month

February 1, 2024 /

Black History Month


Celebrate Black History Month!

In celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth, ASLA-NY’s goal is to amplify the voices of our African American members, raise awareness of black landscapes and engage all our members to learn more. Join us this month and all year on social media to celebrate Black Design Excellence. Come back to this page often as we continue to add content. For related events, go to our Events page.


Tour Seneca Village

Various Dates in February

Before Central Park was built, the area from West 82nd to West 89th Street was home to Seneca Village, the largest community of African-American property owners in New York. Discover Seneca Village, the largest community of free African-American property owners in pre–Civil War New York. On this tour, visitors will read the physical landscape of Seneca Village to understand the particular value it provided to Black New Yorkers seeking refuge from the crowded conditions and racial discrimination prevalent in early 19th Century NYC. Click Here for more info

Feb 15 | 1:30 pm EST
ASLA: Divine Nine Spaces Webinar: HNP/Auburn University National Pan Hellenic Legacy Plaza 

Explore the legacy of Divine Nine spaces. Gain insights into HNP Landscape Architecture‘s contributions to Auburn University’s 50th-year celebration of Black Greek life and their design for the National Pan-Hellenic Council Legacy Plaza.

Black Future Festival

From Feburary 18 – 25, Brooklyn Museum will be hosting a week long celebration of the African Diaspora and Black History Month. Each day there will be workshops, dance performances, storytelling, and much more! Stay tuned for additional details and learn more about the Black Future Festival here!

Feb 21 | 1:30 pm EST
ASLA: Meet the Author: Children’s Book Talk – Who Made My Stuff? Aisha Densmore-Bey

Don’t miss a conversation with author Aisha Densmore-Bey. She’ll discuss her book, “Who Made My Stuff?”—a story of an inquisitive boy who enjoys exploring the outdoors and his community. Plus, hear about Aisha’s journey into the design profession and how she’s working to attract high school students to all design professions.

The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism

The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism is set to open at The Met on February 25. It will feature 160 works of paintings, sculptures, photography, film, and ephemera exploring how Black artists portrayed everyday modern life in the new Black cities that took shape in the 1920s–40s. From New York City’s blossoming Harlem to other cities populated during the Great Migration, artists like Charles Alston, Aaron Douglas, and more portray the era through their eyes. Learn more about the exhibit here.



Karen A. Phillips, FASLA

Credited as a leading figure of the second Harlem Renaissance, Karen is known to her friends and colleagues as someone with a steadfast commitment to equitable and sustainable urban development. Her career spanned real estate, urban planning and revitalization, environmental design, community development, and public service. As CEO of Harlem’s Abyssinian Development Corporation, she used historic preservation and architectural rehabilitation to uphold the neighborhood’s physical fabric, revitalize landmarks, and created affordable housing in tandem with economic development, civic engagement, and social services. Karen later established and served as Director of the Office of Sustainability at New York State Homes and Community Renewal, which resulted in policies, programs, and coordination with other public and private partners to promote energy efficiency and resiliency in economically challenged communities. Prior to that position she was the New York City Regional Director for New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, following nearly 10 years as an appointed member of the New York City Planning Commission. Learn more about Karen HERE

Headshot of Elizabeth J. Kennedy, FASLA

Elizabeth J. Kennedy, FASLA 

Elizabeth is the founder of Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect, PLLC (EKLA). Black-owned and woman-run, EKLA is the longest-surviving such firm in the country. Its longevity is intrinsically tied to Elizabeth’s tenacity and her belief in the importance of service—to clients, to the community, the emerging professionals she trains, the profession, and the process of design. The work she directs quietly challenges mainstream assumptions about the aspirations and needs of underrepresented voices. Systems and biases have long dispossessed the less powerful of spaces and rendered the people who use them invisible. Elizabeth is best known for work that counters this invisibility. Her projects at the intersection of social justice and design exemplify landscape architecture’s potential to engage a broader critical understanding of place and identity. It’s from this perspective and standpoint that Elizabeth teaches, directs, critiques, frames, collaborates, and edits – whether in her studio or through national debate.

Read more about Elizabeth HERE


NEW: TCLF What’s Out There Guide to African American Cultural Landscapes

In recognition of Black History Month, The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) announces the publication of the What’s Out There Guide to African American Cultural Landscapes, a new, ever growing digital guide featuring more than 140 sites associated with African American cultural lifeways and nearly 30 biographical profiles. This richly illustrated guide is the result of years of research and collaboration and explores landscapes through nine separate themes. However, this is just the beginning. TCLF is asking the public to submit information about places and people not currently represented.

TCLF Race and Space: Hidden Histories Revealed presents thirteen sites across eleven states and spanning almost a millennium of history. These cultural landscapes broaden our awareness about the origins of our nation and illustrate the dramatic social and geographic changes of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Examined together, these sites represent local stories and global themes, shedding light on how settlement and removal, slavery and Jim Crow, urban renewal, and environmental injustice have shaped our national landscape and continue to impact communities, families, individuals, and cultural and natural resources.


Lincoln Avenue Corridor, New Rochelle, New York

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Children at New Rochelle Public Library storytime, 1960. Photo courtesy New Rochelle Public Library.

Since its founding nearly one hundred years before the Revolutionary War, New Rochelle, New York has undergone several transformations. Variously a colony for Huguenot refugees, a hotbed for abolitionist movements, a hub of European immigration, and a classic American suburb, New Rochelle’s diversity and proximity to New York City have induced physical as well as social changes. Urban renewal projects in the mid-twentieth century tore apart the community’s historic African American neighborhoods/ Today, visionary residents and ambitious urban planning projects offer opportunities for equitably rebuilding this cultural landscape. Learn more HERE


Sandy Ground, Staten Island, New York

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Boarding house in Sandy Ground, Staten Island, 1840s. Photo courtesy Sandy Ground Historical Society.

Among New York’s several discrete neighborhoods settled by free Blacks in the pre-Civil War era was Sandy Ground, a community in Staten Island that dates to 1799. While a cemetery and a number of extant structures, including a few dozen homes and a church (which was a stop on the Underground Railroad), remain, continued development and under-recognition continue to threaten these remnants of an important layer of NYC’s history. Learn more HERE

More on Sandy Ground:

Who will step up in fight to save our nation’s oldest free Black settlement?

Read the full, interesting history packed story HERE

If you are interested in getting involved with the rebuilding of Sandy Ground, email


Establishing a ‘Gateway to Harlem’: The Creation of Frederick Douglass Circle

Frederick Douglass Circle, at the northwest corner of Central Park, features a sculpture of the renowned abolitionist leader, women’s suffragist, editor, orator, author, and statesman. In honor of Black History Month, learn how the plaza redesign came to be.

How the Landscape of Seneca Village Can Reveal its History

The site of Seneca Village, on the Park’s west side, resembles many other Central Park areas and reveals no discernable clues that by 1856 it was a predominantly African-American community with three churches, a school, and over 50 houses. However, the presence of natural features such as rocks, water, hills, and plants can help us to imagine its residents’ lives and understand its history.

Preserving Significant Places of Black History: African American Landmarks and Historic Districts in New York City

This brand new resource from the The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is an interactive story map to celebrate New York City’s African American history through its designated places. The story map is the result of a careful study of places important to African American history that have been designated since the LPC was created in 1965. It is presented as an educational tool to celebrate and learn about Black history through selected landmarks and historic districts that embody it.


ASLA-NY Centering Perspectives: Discussion of Black Equity in Landscape Architecture


In solidarity with continued protests across America, the ASLA New York Chapter and the ASLA Student Chapter have initiated a discussion with a small forum of Black professionals within landscape architecture, students, and alumni to reflect on their experiences within the discipline and offer pathways toward future Black equity. In recognizing the power and importance of landscape architecture, a student-led discussion expands on questions of how academia and the profession can support a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. WATCH NOW


Claiming Open Spaces

Landscape Architecture Magazine LAMCast

Produced and directed by Austin Allen, an associate professor at Louisiana State University, Claiming Open Spaces is a documentary on the perception of parks, in cities such as New Orleans and Detroit, from the cultural perspective of the African Americans who use them. As noted by a young Walter Hood, ASLA, the cultural makeup of the communities that use city parks is often left out of planning and programming, which can alienate the people meant to use them. 


From the reVISON ASLA 2020 conference, watch: A Call to Action, highlighting commitments by practitioners and educators taking meaningful action towards centering equity and calling our community to expand efforts towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive profession.

Further Reading

Black Landscapes Matter, by Walter Hood and Grace Mitchell Tada, November 2020

Essayists examine a variety of U.S. places – ranging from New Orleans and Charlotte to Milwaukee and Detroit – exposing racism endemic in the built environment and acknowledging the widespread erasure of black geographies and cultural landscapes.

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land,
by Leah Penniman, 2018

Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. At Soul Fire Farm, author Leah Penniman co-created the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program as a container for new farmers to share growing skills in a culturally relevant and supportive environment led by people of color.

The Cotton Kingdom: A Traveller’s Observations On Cotton And Slavery In The American Slave States, 1853-1861, by Frederick Law Olmsted, September 2017

In 1853, Frederick Law Olmsted was working for the New York Times when he journeyed to the southern slave states of the U.S. and wrote one of the most important pro-abolition discourses. The Cotton Kingdom recounts his daily observations of the curse of slavery: the poverty it brought to both black and white people; the inadequacies of the plantation system; and the economic consequences and problems associated with America’s most “peculiar institution”.


Kofi Boone: Designing a Black Commons

Historically marginalized and underserved communities are facing multiple challenges at once: a climate crisis; a health crisis exacerbated by COVID-19; and a racial equity crisis, driven by structural inequities.

One solution to these interconnected challenges is a Black Commons, which involves pooling collective land and resources to stabilize and empower Black communities and support their efforts to generate wealth, argued Kofi Boone, FASLA, the Joseph D. Moore Distinguished Professor at NC State University, during a lecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Read more HERE

The Twin Pandemics, August 28, 2020  Landscape Architecture Magazine

Seven Black designers including ASLA-NY member Elizabeth Kennedy, on the complicity of landscape architecture and the changes needed to address the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism.

BLACK LANDSCAPES MATTER, by Kofi Boone, Ground Up Journal 2016

Race and Cultural Landscapes: A Conversation With Elizabeth Kryder-Reid, by Charles Birnbaum, TCLF, Nov 10, 2017 ‘Race and Cultural Landscapes’ is a series of one-on-one conversations with thought-leaders around the nation about how issues of race and history are represented and evoked in cultural landscapes (see Part 2 and Part 3). 

Race and Cultural Landscapes: A Conversation With W. Fitzhugh Brundage, by Charles Birnbaum, TCLF, Nov 22, 2017

Race and Cultural Landscapes: A Conversation With Kofi Boone, by Charles Birnbaum, TCLF, Mar 25, 2019 


The ASLA Fund announced a new program to provide financial assistance to women of color on their journey to become licensed  

Three generous sponsors have committed to donate a total of $100,000 in funding. These generous donations will allow us to support nine (9) women of color each year for three years on their journey to become licensed by providing funds to cover the full cost of CLARB registration and each section of the LARE, as well as exam preparation assistance, study resources, and a mentor to assist them on their journey. With your support, we can match our current donors and support an additional nine (9) women each year in the current program or extend the program for another 3 years! That is 54 newly licensed women of color! DONATE HERE



The mission of the Black Landscape Architects Network is to increase the visibility, support the interests, and foster the impact of Black practitioners in landscape architecture. BlackLAN is dedicated to the success in the profession of persons who self-identify as Black and claim African ancestry.

National Association of Minority Landscape Architects (NAMLA)

The National Association of Minority Landscape Architects (NAMLA) is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in Los Angeles, California in 2020. The premise for starting the organization is based on increasing minority representation at all levels of landscape architecture practice and academia.

NAMLA plans to do this by providing educational and career development assistance to minorities while confronting the structural racism that has disproportionately kept people of color from having decision-making roles on how our landscapes are programmed, designed, and taught.

Black History in NYC Parks

Learn about the Black experience in the United States and how New York City honors Black history in our parks today.

African American Heritage | U.S. National Park Service

Commemorating 400 Years of African American Heritage | U.S. National Park Service

African American History: Places and People | National Trust for Historic Preservation

Telling Our Full Story | National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO)

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