• Black Futurism: Creating a More Equitable Future, Black in Design Conference 2019
    Daisha Martin and Jaline McPherson
    Gund Hall, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge
    Oct 04, 2019 to Oct 06, 2019
    Harvard University-Graduate School of Design-African American Student Union

2019 Black in Design Conference: Black Futurism: Creating a More Equitable Future promotional poster.

The Black in Design conference, organized by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design African American Student Union (GSD AASU) recognizes the contributions of the African diaspora to the design fields and promotes discourse around the agency of the design profession to address and dismantle the institutional barriers faced by our communities. The 2019 Black in Design conference, Black Futurism: Creating a More Equitable Future explores pathways to liberation through a design lens, considering the historical past and present structural oppression of black and brown communities locally and internationally. The conference demonstrates how designers, creatives, organizers, educators, and policymakers are imagining more sustainable and equitable futures for black and brown bodies. The conference will lead discussions and exhibitions on the intersection of black futurism and design, contending with the role of the radical imagination as we tackle complex urban problems of social and economic injustice. Seeking to create a learning environment where participants collaborate, grapple with questions of equity and possibility, and also share visions for the future of black communities across the world. This environment gives agency to black and brown voices to define what a more sustainable future looks like and how this vision can be collectively realized.

Daisha Martin, cochair of Black in Design, is a master's candidate in urban planning student at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Growing up in the small suburb in Michigan, she has always been passionate about politics and being active in her community. Before attending Harvard, she attended Howard University in Washington, DC where she received her bachelor's in political science and economics. During this period, she served as a District Leadership Fellow in the Office of Planning working with the DC Mayor to on improve economic development programs in underserved communities in the District. She believes in the power of engagement and participation and encourages her peers to be engaged in their local community. She believes that activism starts today, not tomorrow. And through her unique experience this has become her motto because she believes that every man, woman, and child has the power and strength to be great and make a positive impact in their community.

Jaline McPherson, cochair of Black in Design, is a master's candidate in the landscape architecture department at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Before attending Harvard, she worked professionally for three years as a project designer for SFCS Architects where she developed her desire to create inclusive environments that celebrated histories and narratives of social equality. She received a bachelor’s of science in architecture from the University of Virginia where she served as president of the National Organization of Minority Architecture students for two years. As an avid artist, she is interested in the inclusion and celebration of minority perspectives though a visual medium. She believes that design should be collaborative in order to celebrate, heal, and create successful communities.

Stephen Gray is assistant professor of urban design with experience working in complex urban environments with municipal agencies, colleges and universities, private developers, nonprofits, and the public. His interests center on the intersection of design and engagement as tools for empowerment as well as drivers for the production of progressive urbanism. His research focuses on (1) humanist approaches to urban design at the intersection of politics, power, race, and place; (2) socioecological urban design approaches to urban resilience; (3) urban peacescapes that integrate peacebuilding, development, and urban design; and (4) implementation strategies for urban design projects across social, political, spatial, temporal, and geographic scales. Prior to joining the GSD, Stephen collaborated with and led cross-disciplinary teams at Sasaki Associates and was a lecturer at MIT School of Architecture and Planning and at Northeastern University School of Architecture.

The Graduate School of Design (GSD) educates leaders in design, research, and scholarship to make a resilient, just, and beautiful world.