Politics Protest and Place:

The Role of Inclusive Urbanism in Civic Activism



Black Lives Matter Plaza, on 16th Street NW, was officially commissioned by Mayor Muriel Bowser on June 5, 2020 / Photo by Julia Mouketo on Unsplash

Introduction


On June 5, 2020 when Mayor Bowser painted “Black Lives Matter” on 16th Street NW in front of the White House, and as a temporary fence transformed into a makeshift billboard, it became abundantly clear that the appearance and design of public space can itself be an act of protest and speech.


During the recent protest, people expressed their resentment and frustration by reclaiming space through art, text, removal of iconic statues and renaming of squares throughout the city, which brought an extraordinary transfiguration of space by symbolizing unity and hope.


A mural near Black Lives Matter Plaza / Photo by Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0)


This competition seeks to examine ways in which the physical environment of cities can participate and promote civic engagement, sharing in the life of the community and activism in our national capital—Washington, DC.

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