Scholar, curator and designer Mabel O. Wilson will deliver the 2020 Eduard F. Sekler Talk at the Society of Architectural Historian’s 73rd Annual International Conference
in Seattle, Washington.
The talk, "'The Home of the Oppressed': Democracy, Slavery and America’s Civic Architecture," explores how the United States’ early civic sphere formed within a landscape of chattel slavery whose laborers built and maintained the architectures of democracy. It is critical to consider that enslaved black people, humans classified as property who lacked the proper political subjectivity to be literally (and legally) self-possessed, built several of the nation’s important civic buildings—the Virginia Capitol, the White House, and the US Capitol. These edifices stand today as Enlightenment monuments to the power of reason and the virtues of equality, justice, and freedom.