Public Sanctuaries: A Case For Redefining the Black Church as Public Space is presented by the Design Trust in partnership with Bricks and Mortals


Public Sanctuaries: A Case for Redefining The Black Church as Public Space considers the many ways planners, developers and clergy members can protect and honor Black Churches as historical, cultural and political centers.

Journee Harris, Design Trust 2021 Equitable Public Space Fellow, moderated a conversation that brings together the perspectives of religious leaders and real estate professionals on a panel to discuss the ways Black Churches can operate as public spaces. 

Inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's call for churches to be active participants in the struggle for racial and economic justice in A Strength to Love, Journee has focused her fellowship research on the Black Church and its relationship to public space. In her work, she has found a conflict between the private and public elements of churches: legally they are private properties, yet they often operate as public spaces. Black Churches, in particular, have historically served as a space for people to gather, create, organize, celebrate, receive support and seek refuge, yet they are often excluded from public space conversations. Journee seeks to challenge that point and her research explores history, real estate, power, accessibility and safety as it relates to the Black Church. 

As a writer, researcher and experienced podcaster, Journee centers honest narratives in all of her work. She believes the hearing and telling of stories can be a tool for community engagement, connecting generations and preserving cultural heritage. Journee holds a B.S. in Psychology from Howard University and will be pursuing a Master’s in Urban Planning after her fellowship year.

The conversation was moderated by Journee Harris, and co-moderated by Rev. Sue Harris Green, a sociologist, housing expert and host of the weekly radio show “Sunday Evening with Reverend Sue.” Joining the conversation as guest speakers are Reverend Derrick McQueen, Pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church; Jason Labate, an attorney focusing on faith-based development, not-for-profit law, affordable housing & community development; and Rev. Bridget Kelso, Minister of Engagement at West End Church and lecturer at the City College of New York.

This event is sponsored by the Design Trust for Public Space and Bricks and Mortals, and was streamed live on YouTube at 4pm EST, September 9th 2022. Follow our Youtube Channel for more public space conversations.

The Design Trust Equitable Public Space Fellowship Program, established in 2016, supports the next generation of urban designers, architects, landscape architects, and planners in contributing to complex public space challenges in our global city. The Design Trust Equitable Public Space Fellowship Program support is provided in part by the New York State Council on the Arts

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Date and Time

Friday, September 09, 2022


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