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They’ve built impressive buildings and magnificent structures. Yet, despite paving the way for construction, black architects still have to fight for recognition.

“Black History Month” has gradually gained popularity and is a prevalent spot today. It’s a momentous event that honors this minority, their achievements, and the often disregarded significance of their presence. Despite being a special celebration, this day holding such a special place in society might beg the question: How much did the blacks suffer to gain this respect?

Black History Month has been celebrated since 1976 as a week-long event honoring prominent figures and the everyday black men who helped and are continuously helping shape the world to be how it is today. However, honoring their too-often forsaken accomplishments didn’t exactly begin as a natural privilege easily handed to them. Instead, they had to fight for recognition and any ounce of appreciation for their work.

The Unnoticed Majesty Of Their Works

Many can identify the noteworthiness of the likes of Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Leonardo da Vinci. These are renowned artists known for their classic paintings, which became prominent despite painting and art not being everyone’s cup of tea because of timeless public recognition.

Yet unlike these figures, a number of personalities have, for the longest time, been undervalued despite the significance of their artifacts.

Have you ever noticed how classic artists are comprised of white figures?

There is this so-called ‘black erasure’ in the art world, where black painters remain unrecognized and black subjects are misrepresented. In the absence of light, black artists still linger in the background, unable to seize people’s appreciation. These individuals are gravely underrepresented and appreciated unless actively fought for.

Such a lack of recognition applies to other aspects of society. To this day, people of color have to actively fight for recognition and a time to be credited for the value they provide.

Their Persevering Fight For Recognition

Of the hundreds and thousands of architects active, only 2% are black. While they comprise only a tiny fraction, this doesn’t mean there aren’t more. Instead, some of them remain in the shadows, unable to showcase what they’re capable of doing. Today, people of color lack the access and authority to build various structures to be utilized in society.

Despite being one of the most consequential facets of society, the architecture industry has long been dominated by white figures. Perhaps this can be attributed to the long-withstanding racism laced within the country’s systems that the minority suffers from this racial exclusion.

They’ve long been part of the country’s construction and pivotal in molding. Their influence has been reflected in materials for generations to read.

For instance, in the Untold Architectural Black History of Tampa, Florida, author and architect Ronald Lee Harden writes about his projects. His book captures his massive contribution to the area, illustrating the establishments he’s built to help the community expand culturally and economically. It also plays a role in his and other black architects’ fight for recognition, spotlighting their influence in the field. It’s a significant step forward to break against the shrouding of their contributions.

Regardless of the efforts poured in, these individuals still feel unfairness in this aspect. In fact, many have spoken up about how most of their businesses remain minor works that don’t consequentially push their careers forward. The system has long been unfair, and the quest to make things equal persists. But is there much progress to count?

Adding The “B” In Modern Architecture

Since the recent events centering on the community, the fight for recognition and respect has doubled in capacity. Numerous firms, professionals, and media companies have taken a step forward to correct the deficiency around Black equity. These events have also raised the attention surrounding businesses this population manages, shining some light on how they furnish society.

Behind such meaningful progress made by society is a grim affair.

While it’s important to celebrate the amplification of such a fight for recognition, it shouldn’t discredit what this came with. It’s dreadful how it needed a loss to find the beauty in what the others are doing. There needed to be offerings of condolences to honor what these individuals provide to society. It’s saddening how this fight needs to come with the risk of tokenism, how it seems only to move forward when there’s an opposite and contradicting event to memorialize.

For black architects to be recognized, there needs to be constant conversation. This way, designers and more architects can participate, doubling the weight of their voices and insights. The architecture industry benefits from these individuals. Showcasing their works during these conversations will only increase appreciation for their work.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ronald Lee Harden’s work, check out his book now!