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A leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors

2020 MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship

Date: Fall 2020

About the Fellowship

The inaugural MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship, a collaboration between the MayorsInstitute on City Design (MICD) and the Just City Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, took place virtually in Fall 2020.

Using the MICD model, this unique and highly interactive program brought together a small group of mayors and design experts to directly tackle racial injustices in each of their cities through planning and design interventions. As COVID-19 brought disproportionate harm to the health and economic well-being of Black residents and the national protests around policing and public safety affecting African-Americans continued, this program focused on planning and design solutions for the neighborhoods where these injustices play out. During the program, each mayor selected a neighborhood in their city that has historically seen under-investment and received expert feedback on applying the language and tactics of racial justice to the neighborhood’s future.

This online fellowship was divided into three modules—Conditions of Injustice, Neighborhood Change, and Design for Justice—which were further divided into nine sessions. Together, they took seven mayors and their staffs through time demonstrating how the combination of politics and design have caused lasting harm in communities. Yet, the modules also made apparent how these same tools may be used to subvert injustice to create the alternative futures for which cities strive.

Seven mayors participated in the inaugural Fellowship: Birmingham, AL Mayor Randall L. Woodfin; Columbia, SC Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin; Framingham, MA Mayor Yvonne Spicer; Greenville, MS Mayor Errick D. Simmons; Jackson, MS Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba; Mount Vernon, NY Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard; and Union City, GA Mayor Vince R. Williams.

Click here to read the 2020 MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship press release.

Click here to download the 2020 MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship Program Book.


Watch Panel: Mayors Imagining the Just City

As part of the Spring 2021 Public Programs series at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), the seven inaugural MICD Just City Mayoral Fellows discussed how to tackle racial injustices in each of their cities through planning and design interventions. The inaugural MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship, a collaboration between the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) and Harvard GSD’s Just City Lab, took place in Fall 2020. During the fellowship, mayors learned best practices from the nation’s leading experts on the intersection of urban design, planning, and racial justice while creating a manifesto of action for each of their cities.

Over two panels, the mayors discussed how their administrations are enacting values of justice in each of their cities. They were joined by distinguished MICD Resource Team alumni to contextualize their efforts within larger conversations taking place in the fields of city design today.

Watch both panels below:

Part 1: Memory, Place Narratives and the Just City

Opening Remarks: Sarah M. Whiting, Dean, Harvard GSD; Ra Joy, Chief of Staff, National Endowment for the Arts; Trinity Simons, Executive Director, MICD
Moderator: Toni L. Griffin, Founder and Director, Just City Lab, Harvard GSD
Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, Columbia, SC
Mayor Errick D. Simmons, Greenville, MS
Mayor Yvonne Spicer, Framingham, MA
Mayor Vince Williams, Union City, GA
Respondent: Brent Leggs, Executive Director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

Part 2: Restorative Justice through a Dignity Economy

Moderator: Toni L. Griffin, Founder and Director, Just City Lab, Harvard GSD
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Jackson, MS
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, Mount Vernon, NY
Mayor Randall Woodfin, Birmingham, AL
Respondent: Michael Murphy, Founding Principal and Executive Director, MASS Design Group
Closing Remarks: Bryan C. Lee, Jr., Founder/Design Director, Colloqate Design