HISTORY

My Mother Against Apartheid

My mother organized support for people forcibly removed from towns where they had lived for generations, and sent to the wilderness of the veld. This was occurring regularly as White areas were “cleansed” of Blacks. And she offered daily, practical help to a constant stream of Black South Africans caught up in the bureaucratic nightmare of dispossession.

Read More »

Modern Housing

When millions were displaced by the Dust Bowl and job loss during the Great Depression, the federal government made housing a priority. The Roosevelt Administration enlisted leading thinkers, collectively known as “housers.” These architects, designers and social scientists challenged barriers to housing for all.

Read More »

Metamorphosis

Maria Sibylla Merian could not resist the lure of Suriname. In 1699, together with her daughter, Dorothea, she began a great adventure—at the age of 52. It was, by all accounts, a perilous voyage. After staying in the burgeoning capital of Paramaribo, along with two Black slaves and two indigenous guides, they ventured into the rainforest and were dazzled by the incredible richness and intense colors of the flora and fauna.

Read More »

A Monument that Works for All

When Daniel Burnham, Cass Gilbert, Daniel Chester French, and their fellow commissioners chose Henry Bacon’s Greek temple design for the Lincoln Memorial in 1913, the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects, led by an associate a Frank Lloyd Wright, threw a fit.

Read More »

Controversy Over New Deal Art

Who gets to say what parts of the American narrative are acceptable and what parts are to be excised or erased? This is the heart of a heated conversation about the role of public art today.

The spotlight has been on New Deal muralists known for their radical views of history.

Read More »

Roger Williams’s America

The conflict over control within the first colonies—who could vote, who dictated one’s beliefs, who held authority over whom—was hard-fought, a prelude to the relentless skirmishes we endure today.

Read More »

Voices of Civil Rights

For a passionate and prolific response to racism in America we turn to two extraordinary artists from the 1960s: Nina Simone and James Baldwin. Simone sang about Mississippi lynchings and Baldwin wrote about the profound abuse that Blacks suffered in the South. The two friends supported each other in the fight for Civil Rights.

Read More »

Dialogue on the Mall

The Mall always was, and always will be, a semi-sacred space where Americans come together to meditate, mourn, and remember who we were, and are, as a people and a nation. However, a sizable minority of white Americans, most of whom would pass a lie detector test proving they are not racists, have never internalized the egalitarian assumptions of the Civil Rights Movement.

Read More »