Toward Spatial Justice
A panel discussion exploring questions of heritage, inclusion, and community power in preservation policy and practice
- Brent Leggs, National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Maria Rosario Jackson, Arizona State University
- Emma Osore, BlackSpace
- Moderator: Erica Avrami, Columbia University
Brent Leggs is the Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund – a $25,000,000 fundraising and preservation campaign of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A Harvard University Loeb Fellow and author of Preserving African American Historic Places, he led efforts to create the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Alabama, which President Barack Obama designated in January 2017. Other campaign successes include preserving iconic spaces like Villa Lewaro, the estate of Madam C. J. Walker in Irvington, New York; Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey; A. G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham; and Nina Simone’s birthplace in Tryon, North Carolina; and more. Leggs is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Maryland’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation and the recipient of the 2018 Robert G. Stanton national preservation award.
Maria Rosario Jackson’s expertise is in comprehensive community revitalization, systems change, the dynamics of race and ethnicity and the roles of and arts and culture in communities. She is Institute Professor at Arizona State University in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Dr. Jackson is a Senior Advisor to the Kresge Foundation and has consulted with national and regional foundations and government agencies on strategic planning and research. In 2013, President Obama appointed Dr. Jackson to the National Council on the Arts. She is on the boards of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, L.A. Commons, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts and The Music Center of Los Angeles County. She also currently co-chairs the Los Angeles County Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative. Dr. Jackson advises a number of national and regional projects and initiatives focusing on arts organizations and changing demographics, arts and community development and health as well as initiatives focused on equitable community planning and development and equitable evaluation. Previously, for almost 20 years, Dr. Jackson was at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. There she was a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center and founding director of UI’s Culture, Creativity and Communities Program.
Emma Osore is a systems thinker with expertise in equity, access, and participatory design. She co-founded BlackSpace, a collective of young, Black residents, changemakers, systems thinkers, learners, leaders, and lovers. BlackSpace works to nurture and support Black people in fields of influence that shape our social and spatial environments, promote and protect Black communities through collaborations that strengthen Black assets, and bridge gaps between policy, people, and place to realize equity and justice. BlackSpace moves away from perfunctory forms of engagement and instead towards planning that recognizes, affirms, and amplifies Black agency. In addition to co-founding BlackSpace and directing the BlackSpaces: Brownsville work, Osore is a national Program Manager at Americans for the Arts, building the first program portfolio and team advancing equity in arts leadership. Prior to Americans for the Arts, she worked for the City of Beverly Hills building solutions for city-wide challenges ranging from strategic planning to risk management and wrote an award-winning capstone on optimizing the City’s percent-for-art program. Prior to graduate school, she led community partnerships as founding chief-of-staff at a reconstituted DC public high school, founded a city-wide teen garden enterprise, prevented recidivism of youth in the county juvenile justice system, and developed strategies for school leader selection and evaluation. Osore holds a Bachelor’s in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and a Master’s of Public Administration from Baruch College where she was a National Urban Fellow.
Erica Avrami is the James Marston Fitch Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and an affiliate with the Earth Institute – Center for Sustainable Urban Development. Her research focuses on the intersection of heritage and sustainability planning, the role of preservation in urban policy, and societal values and spatial justice issues in heritage decision-making. She was formerly the Director of Research and Education for World Monuments Fund and a Project Specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute. Dr. Avrami earned her BA in Architecture and MS in Historic Preservation, both at Columbia, and her PhD in planning and public policy at Rutgers University. She was a Trustee and Secretary of US/ICOMOS from 2003 to 2010 and currently serves on the editorial advisory board of the journals Change Over Time and Future Anterior.