CDD Celebrates Black History Month


Black History Month Logo

Celebrate Black History Month with the Community Development Department

In honor of Black History Month, we're recognizing African American pioneers who helped make our cities what they are today through leadership, advocacy, and invention. Learn more about some of the figures throughout American history who made significant contributions to urban development and how their legacies live on through CDD's initiatives. 

Community Planning & Parks

  • Cap Wigington was an architect who significantly shaped the urban form of St. Paul, MN during the early 20th century. As senior architectural designer, he created schools, fire stations, golf clubhouses, airports, and more. 

Continue the legacy and weigh in on Envision Cambridge Urban Form.

Continue the legacy with our Urban Agriculture Taskforce.

Economic Development

  • Massachusetts-based Paul Cuffe was an African American entrepreneur, running a shipping business between America, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean from 1778-1810.

Continue the legacy with the Cambridge Entrepreneurship Program.

  • In 1886, Robert H. Carter was the first African American to become a licensed pharmacist in Massachusetts, owning and operating 5 local drugstores in Boston & New Bedford. 

Continue the legacy by learning about our small business resources. 

Environmental Planning

  • Lisa P. Jackson was the first African-American to become the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (2009-2013). 

Continue the legacy with our Climate Change Planning program.

  • Massachusetts-born Lewis Howard Latimer invented an improved method of creating carbon filaments - the stuff that makes incandescent light bulbs shine - in 1881.

Continue the legacy with our Sunny Cambridge program.

  • Hazel O’Leary was the first woman and first African American to be appointed as the US Secretary of Energy (1993-1997).

Continue the legacy with our Low Carbon Energy Supply Strategy. 

Housing Planning

  • Dorothy Mae Richardson led a resident campaign for better housing in her Pittsburgh neighborhood during the 1960s. She is credited for introducing a new model of community development & inspiring other resident-led organizations 

Continue the legacy by learning about our affordable housing program.

Transportation Planning

  • Garrett Morgan invented the modern-day traffic signal after he created a patent for a traffic control device that had a stop, go, and “warning” signal in 1922.

Continue the legacy with our Vision Zero Action Plan.

  • In the late 19th century, engineer Elijah McCoy invented a lubricating mechanism that allowed trains to run for long periods of time without stopping for maintenance. 

Continue the legacy with our Transit Planning initiative. 

  • While working in Lynn, MA during the late 19th century, inventor Jan Matzeliger revolutionized shoemaking, making it attainable for the general population to have shoes. Talk about making walking a viable mode of transportation! 

Continue the legacy with our Pedestrian Program.

  • African American inventor Granville T. Woods created the Third Rail in 1901. It is still the way that we power many subway systems.

Continue the legacy with our Transit Strategic Plan.

  • Kittie Knox challenged race & gender barriers in the 1890s when the she refused to acknowledge the League of American Wheelmen’s color ban. The Boston-based cyclist is buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetery. 

Continue the legacy with our Bicycle Program.