Skip to main content

Welcome back! Choose from more than 50 reinstated walking tours, book a CAFC River Cruise and visit the Center Thursday through Monday.

While CAC docents, staff members and volunteers practice safe spatial distancing, we’re busy listening to, viewing, and reading various media to rediscover why design matters. This week, we’re reflecting on an historic speech by Whitney Young.

by Hallie Rosen

Now is not the first time that leaders in architecture and related industries have heard calls to advance equity and foster inclusion. In 1968, civil rights leader and National Urban League Executive Director Whitney M. Young, Jr. delivered an historic address to the American Institute of Architects’ National Convention in Portland, Oregon. Today we reflect on what has—and hasn’t—changed since then.

SPEECH: YOUNG’S FULL REMARKS FROM THE 1968 AIA CONVENTION

Read

For those in attendance at the AIA convention in 1968, Young’s strong and passionate words were a call to action to increase the racial diversity of the profession and urge architects to speak out on relevant issues of the day. “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 this has not come to you as any shock,” Young said. “You are most distinguished by your thunderous silence and your complete irrelevance.” Read his full remarks in this 11-page document (PDF).

ARTICLE: REMEMBERING WHITNEY YOUNG’S LANDMARK SPEECH

Read

This piece published in 2018 in Architect magazine paired excerpts from Young’s speech with responses from contemporary architects including Victor Jones, Founder and Principal of Los Angeles-based Fièvre+Jones, who stated: “Young’s message remains hauntingly alive 50 years later as I, and many others, try to not lose our heads over the racial inclusion we still DO NOT SEE in architecture.”

ARTICLE: THE LEGACY OF WHITNEY YOUNG: 50 YEARS LATER

Read

Since the convention, the AIA has passed resolutions, expanded its Code of Ethics and launched programs intended to promote a more inclusive and equitable profession. Learn more about them and the lasting impact Young’s speech had on architects in this article. While there have been changes, there is ongoing work the AIA continues to do to be inclusive of historically marginalized communities.

CAC Recommends content does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Chicago Architecture Center, members of its board and staff, or other stakeholders.