Julian F. Abele, a black architect from Philadelphia, passed in 1950 virtually unknown to the mass public, save a few local design circles. And yet, the University of Pennsylvania graduate who earned a degree in architecture, was the first-ever black student to graduate from the Ivy League institution in 1902, created some of the most elegant, Beaux-Arts sites on the East Coast. Some of which he was not allowed to step foot on.
In 1986, a student-held protest at Duke University, located in Durham, N.C., against the apartheid then taking place in South Africa indirectly revealed this unfortunate circumstance Abele endured. To signify their distaste for the injustice going on in South Africa, Duke University students built shanty-like structures in front of the school's winsome stone chapel, which was modeled after England's Canterbury Cathedral, and designed by Abele. A student who was offended by this act wrote in the school's newspaper that this demonstration violated her rights as as student to access a beautiful school.
But unbeknownst to this oblivious student, and along with the school's adminstrators, the late architect's great-grandniece was a sophomore at Duke, and asserted Abele would have supported this demonstration since he too "was a victim of apartheid" in his own country.
To read the full story, head over to Curbed.