Part of our 2021 Black History Month series “9 Designers Reflect on the Past, Present & Future of Black History in Architecture”
Jerry Bryant, associate principal and architectural designer who joined ZGF’s Los Angeles office in 2004, reflects on the words and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that have influenced his approach in life and career.
Reflecting on Black history in America and looking back on my career, how I set out to establish my professional identity and character, where I am today and where I plan to go from here, there’s one figure from our American history that has had more of an impact on me than any other, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Listening to his momentous “I Have a Dream” speech during my high school education made such an impression on my character that it became one of the pillars of my work ethic and the standard by which I measure myself. It ignited a drive within me and contributed to a world view that influences all aspects of my work and relationships, both professional and personal.
Dr. King said in his speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character … that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” Being a military brat, living overseas in foreign lands and exposed to myriad cultures, I gained a perspective at an early age for the beauty and possibility of Dr. King’s dream and I was able to learn and witness for myself the truth and wisdom of his words.
With this foundation, my drive as an architect is to have an integrity, a character, and a body of work that warrants nothing less than an excellent appraisal—an assessment that doesn’t consider my outward appearance for validation, with a standard for excellency that is not partial to any but the same for all, including me. I strive to put this into action myself, hopefully as second nature—judging others based on the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. Living, working and contributing to the fabric of society as one who lives truly colorblind, and in a small part, fulfilling Dr. King’s dream.
Read more stories from this series here.