Chocolate City: The history of DC’s urban design

DC was the nation’s first major city with an African American majority. Today, African Americans make up less than half of the city’s population and a growing proportion of the population in the region’s suburbs, which have also experienced recent rises in poverty rates and immigration. In 2019, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition ranked Washington, DC as “the most intensely gentrified” city in the country. Long-term residents and small businesses are facing an affordability crisis and struggling to remain in place and retain the culture that once defined “the Chocolate City."" This process didn't happen purely organically — and these struggles are not new.

In this talk, Dr. Willow Lung-Amam will put current trends within the context of a longer history of racialized urban design and explore the role that designers have played in creating an unequal region. She will end by offering suggestions for designers to be part of undoing those systems through policy, practice, and advocacy. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how to make change in our region.

About DC Design Week

Built by 100% volunteer power, DC Design Week is an annual celebration of this community, hosted by AIGA DC. Ten percent of all revenue from DCDW events and all profit this year go toward the Design Continuum Fund (DCF) scholarship fund. We believe in fostering the next generation of designers through helping local design-minded and underrepresented students as they pursue their education. Interested in becoming a member? To gain early access to our most exclusive events and year-long discounts, sign up to become a member today!


All DCDW events will have real-time CART (live captioning) services. Learn more about our commitment to accessibility and request additional accommodations at


This event will be streamed via Zoom. In order to participate fully, attendees should plan to join on the Zoom app via their computer, tablet, or mobile device with enough bandwidth to support viewing video. In order to ensure only those who have registered for the event are able to attend — and to create space for intimate conversations — only those whose display name fully matches the name on our registration list will be admitted from the waiting room. You can find more about joining our virtual events, including how to connect, directions to troubleshoot, and information about our refund policy in our FAQ.

Code of Conduct

All AIGA DC events adhere to our Code of Conduct.

When & Where
Wed, Sep 23, 2020 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM EDT