Black History Month

February 1, 2021 /

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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.


Karen Phillips, FASLA to receive 2021 LAF Medal 

The LAF Medal is conveyed to a landscape architect for distinguished work in applying the principles of sustainability to landscapes over a career. On January 29, LAF announced that ASLA-NY Member Karen Phillips, FASLA is the 2021 recipient of the medal. 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. 

Read more about Karen HERE

Read TCLF’s profile on Karen HERE


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.


Brooklyn’s Historic Weeksville Community – Virtual Tour February 27

Join the Municipal Arts Society (MAS) for a tour of this remarkable town, meet some of its citizens, and discover the work being done today by the Weeksville Heritage Center. Weeksville is not just an important part of Brooklyn’s black history, it’s an important component of American history.

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.

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”.


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 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.

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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