In his 1968 keynote address to the AIA Convention in Portland, Oregon, Whitney M. Young, Jr., head of the Urban League, challenges the AIA on issues relating to social responsibility and diversity within the profession: “You are not a profession that has distinguished itself by your social and civic contributions to the cause of civil rights ….. You are most distinguished by your thunderous silence and your complete irrelevance.” “We are going to have to have people as committed to doing the right thing to inclusiveness as we have in the past to exclusiveness.”
Twelve African-American architects from different parts of the country met, some for the first time, during the AIA National Convention in Detroit in 1971. What these professionals recognized was the desperate need for an organization dedicated to the development and advancement of minority architects.
Present at the creation were William Brown, Leroy Campbell, Wendell Campbell, John S. Chase, James C. Dodd, Kenneth B. Groggs, Nelson Harris, Jeh Johnson, E.H. McDowell, Robert J. Nash, Harold Williams, and Robert Wilson. These African American architects wanted minority design professionals to work together to fight discriminatory policies that limit or bar minority architects from participating in design and constructions programs.
That was the beginning of the National Organization of Minority Architects, an increasing influential voice, promoting the quality and excellence of minority design professionals. There are NOMA Chapters in all parts of the country, increasing recognition on colleges and university campuses and providing greater access to government policy makers.