Najha Zigbi-Johnson: “Reframing Power”

Reframing Power: Exploring the Politics and Legacy of Malcolm X as a Social Justice Framework in Preservation and Beyond

Lecture by Najha Zigbi-Johnson the Director of Institutional Advancement at The Shabazz Center

The historic disregard and underdevelopment of the Audubon Ballroom, now known as The Shabazz Center, reflects a racist disinterest in uplifting and sustaining the radical legacy of Malcolm X as part and parcel of the American story. Beyond the work of The Shabazz Center as a memorial and cultural institution, Malcolm X’s legacy must also be employed as a social justice framework and pedagogical model across disciplines that helps to reframe our understanding of power between communities and institutions. Malcolm X’s commitment to anti-imperialism and Black power is a praxis-oriented lens that ought to be used in the work of not simply historians, but also in the work of planners, preservationists, architects and designers who are engaging with the legacy of structural racism in the built environment.

Born and raised in Harlem New York, Najha Zigbi-Johnson is committed to building Black power and social movements through cultural and civic engagement work. She is a graduate of Guilford College and most recently of Harvard Divinity School, where she explored Black American social movement history and Black cultural production as a Presidential Scholar. At Harvard, she founded and led the course “Freedom School: A Seminar on Theory and Praxis for Black Studies in the U.S.” and co-edited the associated publication, Freedom School Magazine. While at Guilford College, Zigbi-Johnson organized with the state-wide youth coalition, Ignite North Carolina and co-founded and led the student group “Integrity for Guilford” and the practicum, “Organizing for an Anti-Oppressive Campus.” Najha now serves as the Director of Institutional Advancement at The Shabazz Center in Washington Heights, and is one of two inaugural Community Fellows at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation at Columbia University for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Free and open to the public.

Organized as part of the Preservation Lecture Series, an initiative of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia GSAPP.



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