The question "Do black landscapes matter?" cuts deep to the core of American history. From the plantations of slavery to contemporary segregated cities, from freedman villages to northern migrations for freedom, the nation’s landscape bears the detritus of diverse origins. Black landscapes matter because they tell the truth. In this vital new collection, acclaimed landscape designer and public artist Walter Hood assembles a group of notable landscape architecture and planning professionals and scholars to probe how race, memory, and meaning intersect in the American landscape.
Essayists examine a variety of U.S. places—ranging from New Orleans and Charlotte to Milwaukee and Detroit—exposing racism endemic in the built environment and acknowledging the widespread erasure of black geographies and cultural landscapes. Through a combination of case studies, critiques, and calls to action, contributors reveal the deficient, normative portrayals of landscape that affect communities of color and question how public design and preservation efforts can support people in these places. In a culture in which historical omissions and specious narratives routinely provoke disinvestment in minority communities, creative solutions by designers, planners, artists, and residents are necessary to activate them in novel ways. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in ways that can never be fully known. Black Landscapes Matter is a timely and necessary reminder that without recognizing and reconciling these histories and spaces, America’s past and future cannot be understood.